How are agriculture ecology efficient


Eco-efficiency in the simplest of terms is about achieving more with less—more agricultural outputs, in terms of quantity and quality, for less input of land, water, nutrients, energy, labor, or capital. The concept of eco-efficiency encompasses both the ecological and economic dimensions of sustainable agriculture.

By enhancing biological processes and recycling biomass, nutrients and water, producers are able to use fewer external resources, reducing costs and the negative environmental impacts of their use.


What is ecological agriculture?

Ecological agriculture. What it is and how it works The problems of modern high input agriculture are presently causing some concern. The fundamental problem is an undermining of the energy efficient self-sustaining character of a biological system. The purpose of this paper is to suggest an alternative system called Ecological Agriculture.

Is agriculture getting more and more efficient?

tree Many people believe that agriculture in this country (and in the other industrialised countries) is getting more and more efficient. They perhaps get this impression on account of the fact that yields of crops are going up all the time.

How do agricultural ecosystems maintain the stability and productivity of ecosystems?

The stability and productivity of agricultural ecosystems rely on efficient functioning of these and other processes, whereby carbon and nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus are recycled.

What is eco-efficient agriculture?

The concept of eco-efficiency encompasses both the ecological and economic dimensions of sustainable agriculture. Social and institutional dimensions of sustainability, while not explicitly captured in eco-efficiency measures, remain critical barriers and opportunities on the pathway toward more eco-efficient agriculture.


How did agriculture become more efficient?

The agriculture industry has radically transformed over the past 50 years. Advances in machinery have expanded the scale, speed, and productivity of farm equipment, leading to more efficient cultivation of more land. Seed, irrigation, and fertilizers also have vastly improved, helping farmers increase yields.

What is efficiency in agriculture?

1. An effectiveness of the financial and economic activities of an economic entity in agriculture, ability to ensure the achievement of high rates of productivity, efficiency, profitability, and product quality.

What is the importance of agricultural ecology?

Ecological agriculture improves pollination, which in turn improves crop yields. Ecological farming takes advantage of the natural ecosystem services, such as water filtration, pollination, oxygen production, and disease and pest control.

What are the environmental benefits of agricultural efficient farming?

When agricultural operations are sustainably managed, they can preserve and restore critical habitats, help protect watersheds, and improve soil health and water quality. But unsustainable practices have serious impacts on people and the environment.

What is agricultural productivity and efficiency?

The measurement of agricultural productivity helps in knowing the areas that are performing rather less efficiently in comparison to the neighbouring areas. By delimiting the areas of low, medium and high productivity, agricultural plans may be formulated to remove and minimize the regional inequalities.

What is agricultural efficiency in geography?

Agricultural Efficiency is defined as the input-output ratio in an agricultural operation. It reflects the impact of modern inputs and technology in production and is dependent upon the responsiveness of soil and the agricultural ecology.

What is agricultural ecology?

Definition. Simply stated, agricultural ecology is the study of agricultural ecosystems and their components as they function within themselves and in the context of the landscapes that contain them.

Why is ecological agriculture sustainable?

Organic agriculture reduces non-renewable energy use by decreasing agrochemical needs (these require high quantities of fossil fuel to be produced). Organic agriculture contributes to mitigating the greenhouse effect and global warming through its ability to sequester carbon in the soil.

What is ecological agriculture sustainable?

A sustainable agriculture approach seeks to utilize natural resources in such a way that they can regenerate their productive capacity, and also minimize harmful impacts on ecosystems beyond a field’s edge.

What is the effect of agriculture on the ecosystem?

Agriculture produces more than just crops. Agricultural practices have environmental impacts that affect a wide range of ecosystem services, including water quality, pollination, nutrient cycling, soil retention, carbon sequestration, and biodiversity conservation.

What are the environmental impacts of agriculture?

Agriculture contributes to a number larger of environmental issues that cause environmental degradation including: climate change, deforestation, biodiversity loss, dead zones, genetic engineering, irrigation problems, pollutants, soil degradation, and waste.

What are the main benefits of agriculture?

Agriculture and Food. Agriculture can help reduce poverty, raise incomes and improve food security for 80% of the world’s poor, who live in rural areas and work mainly in farming. The World Bank Group is a leading financier of agriculture.

How does energy flow into an ecosystem?

Energy flows into an ecosystem as a result of the capture of solar energy from the Sun by plants, and most of this energy is stored as biomass or used to maintain the internal processes of the system. But removing energy-rich biomass from the system causes changes. Human energy (considered renewable) as labor, and industrial energy (considered nonrenewable) from fossil fuels, become necessary. Agroecologists look for ways to increase the efficiency of the capture of energy from the Sun and increase the use of renewable energy, achieving a better balance between the energy needed to maintain internal processes and that which is needed for harvest export.

How do ecosystems maintain themselves?

Ecosystems maintain themselves over time and have the ability to recover from natural disturbances such as a fire or a hurricane. In agricultural ecosystems, disturbance from cultivation, weeding, harvest, and other agricultural activities is much more intense and frequent. It is difficult to maintain any equilibrium in the system with this disturbance, requiring constant outside interference in the form of human labor and external human inputs. By incorporating ecosystem qualities such as diversity, stability, recovery, and balance, the maintenance of an ecological foundation for long-term sustainability can be established.

What is an agricultural ecosystem?

An agricultural ecosystem, which is also known as an agroecosystem, is a place where agricultural production — a farm, for example — is understood as an ecosystem . When something like a farm field is examined from an ecosystem viewpoint, food production can be understood as part of a whole, including the complex kinds of materials entering the system, or inputs, and the materials leaving the system, or outputs. At the same time, the ways that all of the parts of the system are interconnected and interact are of great importance.

How does biotechnology help people?

Genetically modified foods may also help people in developing countries. One in five people in the developing world do not have access to enough food to meet their basic nutritional needs. By enhancing the nutritional value of foods, biotechnology can help improve the quality of basic diets.

How does genetic engineering work?

Modern plant genetic engineering involves transferring desired genes into the DNA of some plant cells and regenerating a whole plant from the transformed tissue. New DNA may be introduced into the cell via biological or physical means.

How does biotechnology work?

In a broad sense, biotechnology continues a process that is thousands of years old. Using traditional plant breeding techniques, humans have altered the genetic composition of almost every crop by only planting seeds from plants with desired traits, or by controlling pollination. As a result, most commercial crops bear little resemblance to their early relatives. Current maize varieties are so changed from their wild progenitors that they cannot survive without continual human intervention.

How do complex interactions between organisms regulate their numbers in natural ecosystems?

Competition, mutualisms , and other types of interactions are promoted by the organization and structure of the system. Growing one or very few crops in modern agriculture eliminates many of these interactions, often removing natural control mechanisms and allowing pest outbreaks. An agroecological alternative seeks to reintroduce more complex structures and species arrangements, often including both crop and noncrop species, in order to reduce the use of pesticides and enhance natural controls.

What is ecological intensification?

Ecological intensification seeks to improve ecosystem service provisioning within agroecosystems by adding or modifying biological components of the system. Examples of ecological intensification include the use of cover crops, perennial plant species, and biochar soil additions.

How much of the Earth’s surface is agroecosystem?

Agroecosystems comprise 30% of the Earth’s surface ( Altieri, 1991 ), and according to Swift et al. (1996) can be defined as, “the ecosystems in which humans have exerted a deliberate selectivity on the composition of the biota i.e., the crops and the livestock maintained by the farmer, replacing to a greater or lesser degree the natural flora and fauna of the site.” Agroecosystems provide various ecosystem services, and management practices used in the agroecosystems determine the state of the global environment ( Tilman et al., 2002 ). However, most agroecosystems are disturbed more frequently and with greater intensity than natural ecosystems resulting in reduced biological diversity (Gliessman, 2015). Poor land management practices within many agroecosystems result in reduced soil organic carbon (SOC) and crop production, and increased erosion. About 50% of the global arable land is already under mechanical and chemical intensive agriculture ( Cohen, 1995 ), which requires high inputs of nutrient, energy, and water ( Krishna, 2010 ). In this chapter, alternatives to mechanical and chemical intensification of agriculture using an approach called sustainable intensification of agroecosystems based on the concept of ecological intensification described by Gaba et al. (2014) will be addressed. Sustainable intensification often reduces mechanical and chemical inputs and increases biological diversification of agroecosystems. Examples include the use of diverse crop rotations, cover crops, no-tillage (NT), and the integration of livestock onto cropped lands. The adoption of diversification in agroecosystems has several advantages including building SOC, reducing insects/pests and diseases, and over time may result in improved crop productivity and other ecological services. However, as stated by Gaba et al. (2014) “manipulating biotic interactions is not necessarily gentler than conventional agriculture and may also have undesirable effects.” Sustainable intensification based on diversification of agroecosystems also includes a number of concerns such as higher initial cost, increased management skills, and an increase in uncertainty during the transition from mechanical and chemical intensification to sustainable intensification ( Fig. 9.1 ). Gliessman (2015) defined diversification in agroecosystems as “Diversity is at once a product, a measure, and foundation of system’s complexity—and therefore, of its ability to support sustainable functioning. From this perspective, ecosystem diversity comes about as a result of ways that different living and nonliving components of the system are organized and interact. From another perspective, diversity as manifested by the complex of biogeochemical cycle and the variety of living organisms—is what makes the organization and interaction of the system possible.” Diversification can generate greater employment opportunities and higher incomes for producers ( Ghosh et al., 2014 ). A few examples of diversified farming systems include complex crop rotations, cover crops, and integrated crop-livestock (ICL) systems. This chapter focuses on the impacts of diversified agroecosystems on soil carbon (C) dynamics.

What is an agricultural ecosystem?

An agricultural ecosystem is an ecosystem managed with a purpose. This purpose usually is to produce crops or animal products. Agricultural ecosystems are designed by humans, and current agroecosystems are products of a long chain of experimental work.

How does agricultural intensification affect soil?

Simultaneously, agricultural intensification through the use of tillage, fertilizers, and pesticides alters soil physical, chemical, and biological properties , and thus increases yields at the cost of other ecosystem services.

What is the definition of diversification in agroecosystems?

Gliessman (2015) defined diversification in agroecosystems as “Diversity is at once a product, a measure, and foundation of system’s complexity— and therefore, of its ability to support sustainable functioning.

How does sustainable intensification affect agroecosystems?

Sustainable intensification often reduces mechanical and chemical inputs and increases biological diversification of agroecosystems. Examples include the use of diverse crop rotations, cover crops, no-tillage (NT), and the integration of livestock onto cropped lands.

What concerns agroecosystems, which are typical representatives in the class of anthropogenic ecosystems exploit

What concerns agroecosystems, which are typical representatives in the class of anthropogenic ecosystems exploited by Homo sapiens, it is obvious that by increasing the input of artificial energy we increase their (agricultural) production. Note that the increase does not have an upper boundary and can continue infinitely. However, this is not the case, and there are certain limits, determined by the second law of thermodynamics. In other words, we pay the cost for increasing of agricultural productivity, which is a degradation of the physical environment, in particular, soil degradation. As an example, we shall analyze, as a case study, the maize production in Hungary of 1980s.

Why are researchers reluctant to include inputs beyond the farm gate?

That is why they disregard the energy cost of food transport and processing.

Why is the sun left out of the equation?

The sun’s energy is usually left out of the calculations because it is assumed that, in a given place, it is constant, whatever the farming methods being used.

What is the efficiency of a tree?

treeThe efficiency of a system is the ratio of all the work or energy got out of it to all the energy or work put into it. So, for example, if you put 10,000 calories of work into a system, but only get 5000 calories out, the efficiency is 5000/10,000 = 0.5.

What does efficiency mean in a system?

It has nothing to do with productivity. The efficiency of a system means the ratio between the work or energy got out of it and the work or energy put into it. The more energy we get out per unit amount we put in, the more efficient the system is.

What is the maximum efficiency?

Theoretically the maximum efficiency is when the energy put in is equal to the energy got out – such a system has an efficiency of 1 (or 100%). But in practice it is impossible to have an efficiency as high as 1, because that would mean a perfect mechanism which had no energy losses at all. Calculating Energy.

What is the output/input ratio of potato production in the UK?

Potato production in the UK has an output/input ratio of 1.57 and rice in the USA of 1.3 – both barely sustainable. He gives two figures for shifting agriculture in two different countries (New Guinea and Congo) – 20 and 65 respectively.

What happens if the output/input ratio is less than one?

In other words, if the output/input ratio is less than one, the system is using up the earth’s energy supply and so is not sustainable. A sustainable system must have an output/input ratio equal to or greater than one.

What do chickens eat?

Chickens, for example, that are let loose on unplanted crop fields will eat weed seeds, cattle fertilize pasture with their manure as they graze, pigs can till soil with their powerful nose discs , and certain plants can provide animals with food or shelter.

What is agroecology in agriculture?

Agroecology integrates crops and animals in complementary ways. Some farmers in East Asia, for example, have introduced ducks and fish into their rice paddies. The ducks eat weeds, insects, and other pests; they churn the water with their webbed feet, providing oxygen to the rice plants; and their manure fertilizes the rice and is eaten by the fish. 7,8

Why is it important to support organic farmers?

Supporting organic farmers could help address many of the health and ecological problems of industrial agriculture. Organic practices could, for example, lessen agriculture’s contributions to air and water pollution, while reducing consumers’ exposure to pesticides.

How can farmland be made more resilient against soil erosion?

Farmland can be made more resilient against soil erosion (e.g., during heavy storms), for example, by planting trees and using other barriers to block heavy winds, and by plowing and planting crops perpendicular to sloping land (contour farming) to slow rainwater runoff.

What are farmers revisiting and refining?

Farmers are revisiting and refining these approaches based on new insights, new technology, and new challenges, such as climate change . The breadth of different approaches to producing food raises questions as to which set of practices is best.

Why is crop diversity important?

Crop diversity offers an ecological alternative to relying on pesticides. Insect pests, such as corn earworms and cabbage loopers, tend to favor certain crops. Growing the same crop over a large area ( monoculture) presents the opportunity for these pests to thrive and multiply on a bonanza of their “favorite” crop.

How does aquaponics work?

Aquaponics is an approach to producing fish and plants together. Plants are grown in floating beds, while fish swim either below the plants or in separate tanks connected by pipes. Instead of creating a pollution problem, fish waste fertilizes the plants while the plants help clean the water.

How is fertility maintained?

Fertility is maintained by techniques such as humus application, crop rotations and correct treatment and application of farmyard manure. 2. (2) It must be diversified in order to fulfill (1) above, also to increase stability and maximise biomass production.

What are the problems of high input agriculture?

The fundamental problem is an undermining of the energy efficient self-sustaining character of a biological system. The purpose of this paper is to suggest an alternative system called Ecological Agriculture.


Inorganic Components of The Agricultural Ecosystem

Organic Components of The Agricultural Ecosystem

Soil Chemistry

  • Biological availabilities and transport phenomena of ions and molecules in soil are controlled by the type of bonding that occurs with the solid phase. Ions such as those typically formed when amending soils with inorganic fertilizers interact with high surface area clay and humic colloids to form either outer- or inner-sphere complexes (see Figure 1). Outer-sphere complexes result whe…

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Soil Microbiology and Biochemistry

  • Biochemical transformations catalyzed largely by microorganisms are required for the sustained productivity of all ecosystems. Nutrients sequestered in organic materials and added in the form of fertilizers are cycled by microorganisms in their quest for energy, reducing equivalents, and carbon. Microorganisms grow and reproduce by oxidizing organic or inorganic materials, thereb…

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Human Manipulation of Agricultural Ecosystems

  • Food and fiber production are typically optimized by carefully managing the agricultural ecosystem. Synthetic organic compounds are often applied to control plant pests including weeds, insects, nematodes, and fungal pathogens. Pesticide fate is controlled by sorption to the solid phase and degradation rate. Because most soils have a CEC, cationic …

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  • Brady, Nyle C., and Weil, Ray R. (2002). The Nature and Properties of Soils, 13th edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Diamond, Jared M. (1997). Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. New York: Norton. Hillel, Daniel (1991). Out of the Earth: Civilization and the Life of the Soil. New York: Free Press. Suzuki, David, and Dressel, Holly (1999). From Naked Ape to S…

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