Agroecology is a scientific discipline that uses ecological theory to evaluate and manage agricultural systems so they are productive, sustaining yields and optimizing the use of local resources, while minimizing the negative environmental and socio-economic impacts of modern technologies.

Agroecology regards the biophysical, technical and socio-economic interactions in a system as working together to determine the success of the system itself, as mineral cycles, energy transformations, biological processes and socioeconomic relationships have mutual impacts on each other. (adapted from Altieri)

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Organic farming systems and techniques, agro-forestry and permaculture all form part of the agroecological approach.


Organic Agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic Agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved. (IFOAM)

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Agroforestry is the intentional integration of trees and shrubs into crop and animal farming systems to create environmental, economic, and social benefits. (USDA)

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Permaculture is a design system for sustainable living. It’s about creating homes and communities that are productive and self- reliant and have minimal impact on the environment. (International Permaculture Day)

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Note: there are many definitions for all of the terms above, some more technical and precise than others; we are not attempting here to define comprehensively any of them. Similarly, any readings referenced in this page only have the purpose of providing a useful overview of the subject. For any technical information, check the Briefings.

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