What is agroecology?
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Agroecology is a multidisciplinary science to study the ecological processes that operate in agroecosystems. Agroecology is application of ecological concepts and principles to study, design, manage and evaluate agricultural production systems with greater focus on natural resource conservation, cultural acceptance, social equitability, economic viability and sustainability.
Agroecology is variously defined as “the study of the relation of agricultural crops and environment”, "the study of the interactions between plants, animals, humans and the environment within agricultural systems" or "holistic study of agricultural production systems including its ecological and human facets".
Agroecology links ecology with all aspects of agriculture to reach a goal wherein there is,
sustained agricultural production,
better quality of life,
availability of healthy food,
affordable food prices,
increased purchasing power and
natural resource conservation.
Earlier agricultural food production systems were tuned to producing the food requirements of the farmer family. The surplus food was traded to obtain other life necessities. Then agriculture transformed into a commercial activity and industrial revolution gave further fillip to the activity. From being only focused on food production, genetics, soil science, agronomy etc, agriculture has evolved into a complex activity characterized by socio-economic, cultural, political, nature conserving, and economic dimensions.
Agricultural production systems have been manipulated by people to produce foods, clothing, shelter and fuel for their survival. These communities of plants and animals in agroecosystems interact with one another in the given environment and also with myriad of inputs from humans. Agroecology science develops various techniques and strategies to have optimum stability, sustainability, resilience, biodiversity and profitability in the agroecosystems.
Management of agroecology
There are diverse agroecology management practices and technologies like maintaining vegetative cover for soil, water and moisture conservation, enriching soil with organic matter, application of nutrient recycling mechanisms and use of biological control agents. Crop rotation breaks the life cycle of many pests and also improves the utility of nutrients. Polyculture of complementing crops enhances production. Introduction of cover crops, especially legumes, preserves the moisture in the soil and enriches it with nitrogen.
Agroecology helps in the integration of plant and animal biodiversity by evolving methods to improve nutrient cycles, energy flow and biodiversity, to decrease toxins in the system by discouraging the use of agrochemicals, to achieve natural functional pest control, to conserve natural resources and to stop degradation of the environment.
Current topic: Agroecology
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