What is agroecology?
It's a new mode of agricultural production that does not harm the environment. Agroecology uses resources and mechanisms which – by their very nature – are provided by Nature itself. Flora and fauna, together with the power of nature are all used in agroecology. These methods effectively build on interactions between plants, animals, human beings and the environment… in order to create healthier food. From an environmental perspective, it is more reasonable: less of the planet's natural resources are used. And it's healthier for us because chemical fertilisers, insecticides, pesticides and antibiotics are all reduced or even done away with altogether.
Crop and livestock farmers use the same methods that nature uses to cultivate fruit and vegetables or for their livestock farming – long-term virtuous cycles.
Essentially, agroecology is underpinned by several mechanisms.
Here are a few examples
- water management to store water in the soil and to reduce run-off and erosion
- energy management: all renewable sources are used, particularly those derived from biomass (solar energy, wood, methanisation which produces heat or electricity by recycling plant or organic waste, such as manure)
- biodiversity: Protecting and using the planet's biodiversity are major mainstays of agroecology. Wild flora and fauna are used: wild fauna which feeds on insects is used instead of harmful insecticides.
- Pollination: insects which go from flower to flower, gathering pollen, fertilise plants which will then produce fruit and seeds needed the food. These pollinating insects – bees in particular – must be protected.
- Sustainable seeds are vital for the farming sector: maintaining them, their variety and what they produce help tackle the changes facing the agricultural sector by reducing – for example – the use of phytosanitary products or by introducing new taste qualities.
- Agroforestry: this refers simply to trees coexisting with farmland used for livestock rearing or market gardening, for example. This technique improves the quality of farmland and encourages biodiversity.
Agroecology is also a new approach to agriculture which combines ecological, economic and social considerations. It's a change that commits crop and livestock farmers on a path towards better environmental protection and more effective climate adaptation, in particular by adopting practices that generate less CO2 and use fewer inputs.
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