What is agroecology? How can farmers be encouraged to adopt its principles? Professor Tim Benton, Dean of Strategic Research at Leeds University and former UK Global Food Security Champion answers these questions in the second installment of Farming First’s “Agroecology in Action” series, produced ahead of the Second International Symposium on Agroecology held by the FAO in Rome from 3-5th April 2018.
In scientific terms, “agroecology” refers to the application of ecological principles to agriculture – that is, harnessing nature to support agricultural production. Our planet depends on its ecological resilience, and it is important to find more sustainable methods of growing produce to allow production to be repeated time and time again.
Well known methods include crop rotation – planting a sequence of crops that will naturally improve soil fertility – or enhancing natural enemies to control pests on a farm.
From a science perspective, it is also credible to apply a “mix and match” approach, in which natural methods can work in synergy with more conventional farming methods. Using biology to control pests or rotations to grow fertility allows synthetic inputs to be used in more targeted ways, when, and where, they are most needed. If you are enhancing natural pest control, pesticides can become a last, rather than first, resort. Continue reading