Agroecology is the study of ecological processes applied to agricultural production systems. The prefix agro- refers to agriculture . Bringing ecological principles to bear in agriecosystems can suggest novel management approaches that would not otherwise be considered. The term is often used imprecisely and may refer to “a science, a movement, [or] a practice”. [1] Agroecologists study a variety of agroecosystems, and the field of agroecology is not associated with any one particular method of farming , whether it be organic , integrated , or conventional .intensive or extensive farming. [2]

Ecological strategy

Agroecologists do not unanimously oppose technology or inputs in agriculture but instead assess how, when, and if technology can be used in conjunction with natural, social and human assets. [3] Agroecology proposed a context-or site-specific manner of studying agroecosystems, and as such, it is that there is no universal formula or recipe for the success and maximum well-being of an agroecosystem. Thus, agroecology is not defined by certain management practices, such as the use of natural enemies in place of insecticides , or polyculture in place of monoculture .

Instead, agroecologists may study issues related to the oven system properties of agroecosystems: productivity , stability , sustainability and equitability. [4] As opposed to disciplines that are concerned with only one of these properties, agroecologists see all of them as interconnected and integral to the success of an agroecosystem. Recognizing that these properties are found on varying agri-ecosystems at the study of agroecosystems at any one scale: gene-organism-population-community-ecosystem-landscape-biome, field-farm-community-region-state- country-continent overall.

Agroecologists study these four properties through an interdisciplinary lens, using natural sciences to understand the elements of agroecosystems and plant-insect interactions, as well as social sciences to understand the effects of farming practices on rural communities, economic constraints to developing new production methods, or cultural factors determining farming practices.


Agroecologists do not agree on what agriecology is or should be in the long-term. Different definitions of agroecology can be distinguished by the specificity of which one defines the term “ecology”, as well as the term “potential political connotations”. Definitions of agroecology, therefore, may be first grouped according to the specific contexts within which they situate agriculture. Agroecology is defined by the OECD as “the study of the relationship of agricultural crops and environment.” [5] This definition refers to the “-ecology” part of “agroecology” narrowly as the natural environment. Following this definition, an agroecologist would study agriculture’s various relationships with soil health, water quality, air quality, meso- and micro-fauna, surrounding flora, environmental toxins, and other environmental contexts.

A more common definition of the word can be taken from Dalgaard et al., Who refers to agroecology as the study of interactions between plants, animals, humans and the environment in agricultural systems. Consequently, agroecology is inherently multidisciplinary, including factors from agronomy , ecology , sociology , economics and related disciplines. [6] In this case, the “-ecology” portion of “agroecology is defined broadly to include social, cultural, and economic contexts as well.” Francis et al. concept of food systems. [7]

Agroecology is also defined according to geographic location. In the global south, the term often carries overtly political connotations. Such political definitions of the term usually ascribe to the goals of social and economic justice; Special attention, in this case, is often paid to the traditional farming knowledge of indigenous peoples. [8] North American and European uses of the term sometimes avoid the inclusion of such overtly political goals. In these cases, agroecology is seen more strictly as a scientific discipline with less specific social goals.

Agro-population ecology

This approach is derived from the science of ecology primarily based on population ecology , which has been dissected by ecosystems biology of Odum . Buttel explains the main difference between the two categories, saying that “the application of population ecology to agroecology involves the primacy not only of agroecosystems analysis of the perspective of the population dynamics of their species, and their relationships to climate and biogeochemistry, but also There is a major emphasis on the role of genetics . ” [9]

Indigenous agroecology

This concept was proposed by political ecologist Josep Garí to recognize and uphold the integrated agro-ecological practices of many indigenous peoples, who simultaneously and sustainably support, manage and use ecosystems for agricultural, food, biodiversity and cultural purposes at the same time. [10] Indigenous agroecologies are not systems and practices halt in time, but keep co-evolving with new knowledge and resources, such as provided by development projects, research initiatives and agro-biodiversity exchanges. In fact, the first agro-ecologists were indigenous peoples who advocated their programs and programs to support their systems, rather than replacing them. [11]

Inclusive agroecology

Rather than viewing agroecology as a subset of agriculture, Wojtkowski [12] [13] takes a more encompassing perspective. In this, natural ecology and agroecology are the major headings under ecology. Natural ecology is the study of organisms as they interact with and within natural environments. Correspondingly, agroecology is the basis for the land-use sciences. Here humans are the primary governing body for managed and managed organisms, mostly terrestrial, environments.

As key headings, natural ecology and agroecology provide the theoretical basis for their respective sciences. These theoretical bases overlap but differ in a major way. Economics has no role in the functioning of natural ecosystems and economics sets direction and purpose in agroecology.

Under agroecology are the three land-use sciences, agriculture , forestry , and agroforestry . Although they use their plants in different ways, they share the same theoretical core.

Beyond this, the land-use sciences further subdivide. The subheadings include agronomy, organic farming , traditional agriculture, permaculture , and silviculture . Within this system of subdivisions, agroecology is philosophically neutral. The importance lies in providing a basic basis for hitherto lacking in the land-use sciences. This allows progress in biocomplex agroecosystems including the multi-species plantations of forestry and agroforestry.


To arrive at a point of view of a particular way of farming, an agroecologist would first seek to understand the context in which the farmer (s) is (are) involved. Each farm can be inserted into a unique combination of factors or contexts. Each farmer may have their own premises on the meanings of an agricultural endeavor, and these meanings may be different from those of agroecologists. Generally, farmers seek a configuration that is viable in multiple contexts, such as family, financial, technical, political, logistical, market, environmental, spiritual. Agroecologists want to understand the behavior of those who are seeking livelihoods from the plant and animal increase, acknowledging the organization and planning that is required to run a farm.

Views on organic and non-organic milk production

Because organic agriculture proclaims to sustain the health of soils, ecosystems, and people, [14] it has much in common with Agroecology; citation needed ] Agroecology is not synonymous with organic farming, nor does it mean that farming has the ‘right’ way of farming. citation needed ] Also, it is important to point out that there are wide differences in organic standards among countries and certifying agencies.

Three of the main areas that agroecologists would look at in farms, would be: the environmental impacts, animal welfare issues, and the social aspects.

Environmental impacts caused by organic and non-organic milk production can vary significantly. For both cases, there are positive and negative environmental consequences.

Compared to conventional milk production, organic milk production tends to have lower eutrophication potential per ton of milk or per hectare of farmland, because it helps reduce leaching of nitrates (NO  ) and phosphates (PO ) due to lower fertilizer application rates. Because organic milk production reduces pesticide use, it increases land use per hectare. Mainly due to the level of concentrates given to organic herds, organic dairy farms generally produce less milk per cow. Because of the use of reddening and the on-average, lower milk production level by cow, some research has methane . [15]

Animal welfare issues vary among dairy farms and are not necessarily related to the way of producing milk (organically or conventionally).

A key component of animal welfare is freedom to perform their innate (natural) behavior, and this is stated in one of the basic principles of organic agriculture. Also, there are other aspects of animal welfare to be considered – such as freedom from hunger, thirst, discomfort, injury, fear, distress, disease and pain. Due to the need for adequate housing, adequate bedding, restrictions on the area of ​​slatted floors, minimum drilling proportion in the ruminant diets, and tendency to limit stocking densities both on pastureand in housing for dairy cows, they can promote good foot and hoof health. Some studies show lower incidence of placenta retention, milk fever, and other diseases. [16] However, the level of parasitic infections is organically managed. [17]

Social aspects of dairy enterprises include the life quality of farmers, of farm labor, of rural and urban communities, and also includes public health.

Both organic and non-organic farms can have good and bad implications for the quality of food . Issues like labor conditions, labor hours and labor rights, for instance, do not depend on the organic / non-organic characteristic of the farm; they are more closely related to the socio-economic and cultural situations in which the farm is inserted, instead.

As for the public health or food safety concerns, organic foods are intended to be healthy, free from contaminations and free from agents that could cause human diseases. Organic milk is meant to be used in the manufacture of food, and the restrictions on the use of antibiotics and chemicals in organic food production. Although it is possible to monitor these pathogens, it has been shown that, because antibiotics are not permitted as a preventative measure, there are far fewer antibiotic resistant pathogens on organic farms. This dramatically increases the effectiveness of antibiotics when / if they are necessary.

In an organic dairy farm, an agroecologist could evaluate the following:

  1. Can the farm minimize environmental impacts and Increase ict level of sustainability, for instance by Efficiently Increasing the productivity of the animals to minimize waste of feed and of land use?
  2. Are there ways to improve the health status of the herd (in the box of organics, by using biological controls , for instance)?
  3. Does this way of farming support the quality of life for the farmers , their families, rural labor and communities involved?

Views on no-till farming

No-tillage is one of the components of conservation agriculture practices and is considered more environmental friendly than complete tillage . [18] [19] There is a general consensus that no-till can increase the capacity of acting as carbon sink, especially when combined with cover crops. [18] [20]

No-till can contribuer to Higher soil organic matter and organic carbon content in soils, [21] [22] though deferrals of no-effects of no-tillage in organic matter and organic carbon soil content aussi exist, DEPENDING ON ‘environmental and crop requirements . [23] In addition, no-till can be reduced CO 2 emissions by decreasing the use of fossil fuels. [21] [24]

Most crops can be used for the purpose of no-till, but not suitable for agriculture. [25] [26] Crops that do not grow well when growing in their early stages can be found in a variety of ways, such as a combination of strip-till with no-till areas. [26] Also, harvestable crops qui portion grows underground can-have better results with strip-tillage, citation needed ] Mainly in qui soils are hard for plant roots to Penetrate into deeper layers to access water and nutrients.

The benefits of predisposition to populations can be increased, [27] which is a good way to control pests (biological control), but also allows the predation of the crop itself. In corn crops, for instance, predation by caterpillars can be higher in no-till than in conventional tillage fields. [28]

In places with rigorous winter, which can not be avoided [29] [30] Another factor to be considered is that of the first year of a growing field of pathogenesis , helping to increase the risk of transmitting diseases to the future crop. And because no-till farming provides good environment for pathogens, insects and weeds, it can lead to more intensive use of chemicals for pest control . citation needed ] Other disadvantages of no-till include underground rot, low soil temperatures and high moisture. [quote needed ]

Based on the balance of these factors, and the fact that the farmer has different problems, agroecologists will not only be able to understand the situation. citation needed ] Yet, these are not the only possible choices regarding soil preparation, as they are as long as strip-till, mulch-till and ridge-till, all of them – just as no-till – categorized as conservation . Agroecologists, then, will evaluate the need for different contexts in which each farm is inserted.

In a no-till system, an agroecologist could ask the following:

  1. Can the farm minimize environmental impacts and increase its level of sustainability; for instance by increasing the productivity of the crops to minimize land use?
  2. Does this way of farming support the quality of life for the farmers, their families, rural labor and rural communities involved?



The concepts and ideas Relating to crop ecology-have-been around since at least 1911 When FH King released Farmers of Forty Centuries . King was one of the pioneers as a proponent of more quantitative methods for characterization of water relations and physical properties of soils. [7] In the late 1920s the attempt to merge agronomy and ecology was born with the development of the field of crop ecology. Crop ecology’s main concern was where crops would be best grown. [31] Actually, it was only in 1928 that agronomy and ecology were formally linked by Klages. [7] [32]

The first mention of the term agroecology was in 1928, with the publication of the term by Bensin in 1928. [33] The book of Tischler (1965), was probably the first to be actually titled ‘agroecology’. [34] He analyzed the different components (plants, animals, soils and climate) and their interactions within the agroecosystem and the impact of human agricultural management on these components. Other topics dealing with agroecology, but without using the term were published by the German zoologist Friederichs (1930) with his book on agricultural zoology and related ecological / environmental factors for plant protection, [35] and by American crop physiologist Hansen in 1939 [ 36]when used as a synonym for the application of ecology within agriculture. [6] [ clarification needed ]


Gliessman mentions that post-WWII, groups of scientists with ecologists gave more focus to experiments in the environment, while agronomists focused their attention on the cultivated systems in agriculture. [31] According to Gliessman, [31] the two groups kept their research and interest in agroecosystems and the issue of agroecosystems in 1970. [33] Dalgaard [6] explains the different points of view in ecology schools, and the fundamental differences, which set the basis for the development of agroecology. The early ecology school of Henry Gleason investigated plant targeting populations in thehierarchical levels of the organism under study.

Friederich Clement’s ecology school, however included the organism in question and the higher hierarchical levels in its investigations, a landscape perspective. However, the ecological schools where the roots of agroecology are even broader in nature. The ecology school of Tansley , whose view included both the biotic organism and their environment, is the one from which the concept of agroecosystems emerged in 1974 with Harper. [6] [37]

In the 1960s and 1970s, the increasing awareness of how humans manage the landscape and their consequences set the stage for the necessary cross between agronomy and ecology. Even though, in many ways the environmental movement in the US was a product of the times, the Green Decade, clarification needed ] spread to the environmental awareness of the unintended consequences of changing ecological processes. Works Such As Silent Spring , and The Limits to Growth , and in exchange legislation Such As the Clean Air Act , Clean Water Act , and the National Environmental Policy Actthe production of agricultural production, and the overall capacity of the system. [6]

Fusion with ecology

After the 1970s, when agronomists saw the value of ecology and ecology in the field of agricultural technology, [31] Gliessman describes that the innovative work of Prof. Efraim Hernandez X., who developed research on indigenous systems of knowledge in Mexico , led to education programs in agroecology. [38] In 1977 Prof. Efraim Hernandez X. explained that modern agricultural systems had lost their ecological foundation when socio-economicfactors became the driving force in the food system . [7]The acknowledgment that the socio-economic interactions are indeed one of the fundamental components of any agroecosystems came to light in 1982, with the article Agroecologia del Tropico Americano by Montaldo. The author argues that the socio-economic context can not be separated from the agricultural systems. [7]

In 1995 Edens et al. In this paper, this paper focuses on the development of ecological systems, ecological impacts, and ethics and values ​​in agriculture. [7] Actually, 1985 ended up being a fertile and creative year for the new discipline. For instance in the same year, Miguel Altieri integrated how the consolidation of the farms, and cropping systems impact pest populations. In addition, Gliessman highlighted that socio-economic, and environmental components of food production systems. [7]These pioneering agroecologists have facilitated the development of the field of agroecology. In Asian rice, for example, crop diversification by growing flowering crops in strips beside rice fields has been effectively reduced (by the flower nectar attracting and supporting parasitoids and predators) that insecticide spraying is reduced by 70%, by 5%, resulting from an economic advantage of 7.5% (Gurr et al., 2016) .



year Author (s) title
1928 Klages Crop ecology and ecological crop geography in the agronomic curriculum
1939 Hanson Ecology in agriculture
1956 Azzi Agricultural ecology
1965 Tischler Agrarökologie
1973 Janzen Tropical agroecosystems
1974 harp The need for a focus on agro-ecosystems
1976 Loucks Emergence of research on agroecosystems
1977 Hernandez Xolocotzi Agroecosistemas of Mexico
1978 Gliessman Agroecosistemas y tecnologia agricola tradicional
1979 Hart Agroecosistemas: básicos conceptos
1979 Cox & Atkins Agricultural ecology: an analysis of world food production systems
1980 Hart Agroecosistemas
nineteen eighty one Gliessman, Garcia & Amador The ecological basis for the application of traditional agricultural technology in the management of tropical agroecosystems
1982 Montaldo Agroecologia del trópico americano
1983 Altieri Agroecology
1984 Lowrance, Stinner & House Agricultural ecosystems: unifying concepts
1985 Conway Agroecosystems analysis
1987 Altieri Agroecology: the scientific basis of alternative agriculture
1990 Allen, Dusen, Lundy, & Gliessman Integrating social, environmental, and economic issues in sustainable agriculture
1990 Gliessman Agroecology: researching the ecological basis for sustainable agriculture
1990 Carroll, Vandermeer & Rosset Agroecology
1990 Altieri & Hecht Agroecology and small farm development
1991 Caporali Ecologia for agriculture
1991 Bawden Systems thinking in agriculture
1993 Coscia Agricultura sostenible
1998 Gliessman Agroecology: ecological processes in sustainable agriculture
2001 Garí, Josep A. Indigenous agroecology: Conserving and Cultivating Biodiversity
2001 Garí, Josep A. Biodiversity and Indigenous Agroecology in Amazonia
2001 Flora Interactions between agroecosystems and rural communities
2001 Gliessman Agroecosystem sustainability
2002 Dalgaard, Porter & Hutchings Agroecology, scaling, and interdisciplinarity
2003 Francis et al. Agroecology: The Ecology of Food Systems
2003 Garí, Josep A. Agrobiodiversity strategies to fight food insecurity and HIV / AIDS impact in rural Africa
2004 Clements, Shrestra New Dimension in Agroecology
2007 Bland and Bell A Holon Approach to Agroecology
2007 Gliessman Agroecology: The Ecology of Sustainable Food Systems
2007 Warner Agroecology in Action
2009 Wezel, Soldier A quantitative and qualitative historical analysis of the scientific discipline agroecology
2009 Wezel et al. Agroecology as a science, a movement or a practice. A review
2016 Méndez, V. Ernesto; Bacon, Christopher M.; Cohen, Roseann Agroecology: a transdisciplinary, participatory and action-oriented approach

By region

The principles of agroecology are described on the basis of local ecological and social contexts.

Latin America

Main article: Agroecology in Latin America

Latin America’s experiences with North American Green Agricultural Revolution have opened for agroecologists. Traditional or indigenous knowledge represents a wealth of opportunity for agroecologists, including “exchange of wisdoms”. See Miguel Alteiri’s Enhancing the Productivity of Latin American Traditional Farming Systems Through Agroecological Approach for Information on Agroecology in Latin America.

Agroecological techniques and knowledge plays an important role in solving the severe food crisis in Cuba following the dissolution of the Soviet Union . [40] As part of Cuba’s urban agricultural movement, agroecology is integral to production in Cuban organopónicos . [41]


Historically, agroecology has had low traction in Africa, as governments, international organizations, extension services and farmers’ organizations tend to focus on issues of inputs and outputs as they relate to recurrent food crises and chronic malnutrition in the continent. Agrocecology was a minor proposal from a few, non-governmental, small-scale projects and an “experimental” idea of ​​the Farmer Field Schools program.

In the early 2000s, when Josep Garí proposed a major rural crisis in Africa, it was proposed that FAO should consider an agroecological approach to poverty reduction. peculiarity, he proposed agro-biodiversity as a key resource and knowledge for farmers to address labor and malnutrition crisis. [42] The proposal was adopted by the Farmer Field Schools scheme throughout the world, and presented in China. [43]

Most recently, agroecology has started to permeate projects and discourses on farming and natural resource management in Africa. In 2011, the 1st encounter of agroecology trainers took place in Zimbabwe and issued the Shashe Declaration.


Main article: Agroecology in Madagascar

Most of the historical farming in Madagascar. The French colonial period has been reduced to a small percentage of land, and even included some useful experiments in Sustainable forestry . Slash-and-burn techniques, a component of some shifting cultivation systems have been practiced by natives in Madagascar for centuries. As of 2006 some of the major agricultural products from slash-and-burn methods are wood, charcoal and grass for Zebu grazing. These practices have taken precedence over the fertility of the rule of law, mainly due to overpopulation pressures.

See also

  • Agriculture and agronomy portal
  • Ecology portal
  • Agricultural biodiversity
  • Agriculture in Concert with the Environment
  • Agricultural engineering
  • Agricultural science
  • Agrobiodiversity
  • Agroecological restoration
  • agroecosystem
  • Agrophysics
  • fish farming
  • Biodynamics
  • Botany
  • Climate change and agriculture
  • Community development
  • Community-supported agriculture
  • Conventional agriculture
  • Climate change and agriculture
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Dynamic equilibrium
  • edaphology
  • Ecological economics
  • Ecology of contexts
  • Ecosystem services
  • Ecological Resilience
  • Environmental economics
  • Environmental engineering
  • Environmental impact assessment
  • Environmental impact of agriculture
  • Farmer Field School (FFS)
  • Farmer-managed Natural Regeneration
  • Forest gardening
  • Food desert
  • Food-feed system
  • Food politics
  • Food sovereignty
  • Food security
    • Gender and food security
  • Genetic erosion
  • Human ecology
  • Human rights
    • Right to food
  • International development
  • intercropping
  • Integrated pest management
  • Land degradation
  • Land tenure
    • Land grabbing
  • Landscape ecology
  • Life cycle analysis
  • Local food
  • Malnutrition
  • Managed intensive grazing
  • Masanobu Fukuoka
  • Nutrient management
  • Nyeleni
  • Participatory development
  • Planetary boundaries
  • Plant science
  • Political ecology
  • Pollinator decline
  • Regenerative agriculture
  • Rural development
  • Secondary succession
  • Small-scale agriculture
  • Social metabolism
  • Socio-ecological system
  • Soil science
    • Soil conservation
    • Soil zoology
  • Sustainable agriculture
  • Sustainable development
  • Systems science
  • Urban agriculture
  • Via Campesina
  • zai
  • Organic food culture


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  35. Jump up^ Friederichs, K. (1930) Die Grundfragen und Gesetzmäßigkeiten der land- und forstwirtschaftlichen Zoology. Flight. 1: Ökologischer Teil, Vol. 2: Wirtschaftlicher Teil. Verlagsbuchhandlung Paul Parey, Berlin, Germany, 417 and 443 pp.
  36. Jump up^ Hansen, B., Alroe, HF, Kristensen, ES, 2001 for Assessment Approaches to theenvironmental impactoforganic farmingwith Particular regard to Denmark. Agric. ECOSYS. About. 83, 11-26.
  37. Jump up^ Harper, JL, 1974. Agric. Ecosyst. Agroecosyst. 1, 1-6.
  38. Jump up^ qtd. in Franciset al. 2003.
  39. Jump up^ Reproduced from Francis et al., 2003 and Wezel et al., 2009.
  40. Jump up^ Funes, Fernando; García, Luis; Bourque, Martin; Perez, Nilda; Rosset, Peter. Sustainable Agriculture and Resistance: Transforming Food Production in Cuba . Oakland, CA: Food First Books. ISBN 0-935028-87-0 .
  41. Jump up^ Cederlöf, Gustav (2016). “Low-carbon food supply: The ecological geography of Cuban urban agriculture and agroecological theory”. Agriculture and Human Values . 33 (4): 771-784. doi : 10.1007 / s10460-015-9659-y .
  42. Jump up^ Garí, Josep A. (2003). Agrobiodiversity strategies to fight food insecurity and HIV / AIDS impact in rural Africa. FAO / Population and Development Service, Rome.
  43. Jump up^ Garí, Josep A. (2004). Plant diversity, sustainable rural livelihoods and the HIV / AIDS crisis. Bangkok: UNDP & FAO, 2004. Published in English and Chinese. ISBN 974-92021-4-7.

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