Agroecology

I ran across this term for the first time in a booked entitle World Hunger 10 Myths by Facnces Moore Lappe and Joseph Collins. I was fascinated so researched some more.

So what is Agroecology?

agroecology
Source: Agroecology: The Need for Transformation in Policy and Science

It is the application of ecology to the design and management of sustainable agricultural and food ecosystems. Therefore, it takes into consideration nutrient cycling, population regulations, energy flow and dynamic equilibrium in a local context using local knowledge.

How is it different to organic farming?

Agroecological farmers use many of the same practices as organic farming but they tend to design their fields, with a mix of crops, animals and non-crop plants that lead to more resilient and lower risk operations with less irrigation, energy and waste. These farmers use

  • Local seeds and breeds of animals
  • Agroforestry – mixing trees and shrubs in with animals
  • Cover crops and green manure
  • Crop rotation
  • Diversified fields
  • Organic compost

The general idea behind agroecology is that is provides for the food needs of the present and future without depleting our natural resource base. Agroecology often requires a change to understand agriculture not just as human dominated socio-economic system but also as an ecological system.

However, as a city dweller I wonder how I can influence people involved in the agricultural industry to start using agroecological methods on their farms? Ironically the only power I have in this arena is my buying power.

So I will start to research farms in New Zealand that are using agroecological methods and will encourage my local supermarket to purchase from these producers if I am unable to buy off the farms direct.

And until such time that the local supermarket actually listen to me I will continue to buy organic and haunt in the local farmers markets!

And to finish – An interesting article on agroecology in the New Zealand Herald which links the ability to feed the world to agroecology.

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