Agroecology and Its Importance to Sustainable Agriculture

Agroecology and Its Importance to Sustainable Agriculture
Contributor
Contributor
External Guest Writer
June 2, 2022

What is Agroecology?

Agroecology is the study in which agricultural practices are modified in consideration to climate change mitigation. Agroecology aims to preserve, advance, and adapt farming systems to the ever-changing landscape, particularly as climate change poses a real threat to food systems.

Agroecology is part of permaculture as the study considers the relationship between animals and plants as they interact. This practice aims to find a balance among living things, as well as the balance in agricultural systems in relation to the earth.

Ecological concepts are introduced into sustainable farming methods to create a food and agriculture organization that makes use of natural resources for food production. Agroecology considers the shift of the natural environment in terms of climate change, environmental degradation, and soil health.

How Does It Work?

Farms have shifted to sustainable agriculture as climate change continues to threaten the fertility of arable land, decreasing agricultural productivity. Agroecology aims to restore and conserve natural resources, and agroecological farmers incorporate agroecology into their farming practices by working with nature and animals.

Working with Wildlife

For instance, a farmer may work with wildlife around the area to build healthy ecosystems while cultivating crops. They may adopt agroforestry, or forest farming, to keep their crops organic and natural. They may work with beneficial insects and animals that improve their crop yield, quality, or soil health.

Farmers who harvest honey work with local bee species, ensuring that the hives are well-cared for, fed, and safe from predators. The bees do the work to make honey, and the farmer collects a portion of the honey, while providing local flora for the hives to feed from. In effect, flowers and local plant species are pollinated, creating a cycle of sustainable agriculture.

Working with Natural Resources

Agroecological farming practices also include using resources found in nature, relying on the nutrients in natural rivers and streams to water plants through an irrigation system. Agroecological farmers may also make use of solar power, wind power, or natural pest control for a sustainable development in their food systems.

These practices aim to reduce the wastage and carbon footprint of food systems, leading to sustainable farming that ensures that the earth is not destroyed through farm waste, electrical usage, or water pollution that usually comes with traditional farming.

Agroecology in the Urban Setting

Agroecology is integrated into urban farming with the use of organic fertilizers, natural pesticides, and self-sustaining ecosystems in urban food systems. Natural, organic hydroponics, planting of perennial crops, soil nutrient conservation, and organic farming are a few examples of agroecology done in urban farming.

Agroecology is also typically found in local communities, where small-time, family farmers offer organic crops grown with agroecological practices in mind. Minor food producers have the ability to shift their food systems into adopting agroecology to combat the effects of climate change and environmental degradation on their crops.

The Benefits of Agroecology

Because agroecology studies the interaction of natural elements, it can hold the key in shifting human agricultural practices to consider the sustainability of the industry. Agroecology presents how natural systems can fit into human-made systems in a turning point to becoming ecologically conscious about the industries operating in the market.

Regenerative

Agroecology is highly beneficial to the earth, allowing the earth to breathe. By utilizing what nature has provided, farmers don't only save up on costs of purchasing farm requirements, but they also contribute to the healing of the earth from the effects of environmental degradation.

As a regenerative agriculture, agroecology works with nature instead of against it, making farming easier on the earth. It is a conscious effort to continue with food production systems without taking a toll on the environment. Agroecology works with natural lands, environments, resources, and wildlife to farm while conserving these natural sources.

Soil Health

Agroecology is beneficial to soil health, as soil conservation practices conserve nutrients in the soil for continuous harvest and fertility. The food system can keep on producing crops as needed without the dangers of depleting the soil due to lack of nutrients.

Agricultural systems often deplete soil nutrients, eventually leading to soil infertility that will no longer support plant life. However, agroecology ensures nutrients in the soil are preserved through strategic planting, as well as composting, fertilizing, and mulching the soil.

Food Security

Infertile lands can no longer grow bountiful crops, and climate change further threatens food security. Agroecology is the solution to sustaining the fertility of the earth, while keeping up with food and medicine production for the world's population.

Agroecological systems focus on changing food systems to improve the ecological impacts of food and medicine production for the growing population. Agroecology greatly affects food security, ensuring agricultural lands remain fertile for crop growth.

Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture

Agroecology is completely sustainable. The practice creates food systems that create minimal wastage, and makes use of natural solutions to grow food and crops. As such, agroecology is naturally a sustainable practice meant to provide solutions to the effects of climate change currently happening today. 

Researchers continuously improve ways to integrate agroecology into our food system, as the practice can greatly reduce the environmental effects of traditional agriculture and farming. Agroecology can also provide numerous benefits for both the environment and the farmer, as the farmer can grow large, organic crops with agroecological practices.

The Future of Sustainable Agriculture

Agroecology provides natural solutions that can be applied to our farms to keep the food supply going without the harmful effects on the soil, wildlife, and the earth. Agroecology is not an alternative type of farming method, it is the future of farming as we move towards becoming more environmentally-aware of how human processes affect the ecosystem.