The educational materials listed on this page are about Agroecosystems.
What is agroecology? An agroecosystem is any ecosystem managed primarily for the production of food, fuel or fiber. Agroecology is the study of agricultural ecosystems and the natural resources required to sustain them. Ecological farming requires producers to work within their environmental limitations and use technology to address ecosystem constraints, and gain a competitive edge in the marketplace. Agroecological management enhances the sustainability of agricultural ecosystems by trying to work with the ecological relationships and processes within the broader ecosystem. Agroecology promotes the conservation of soil and organic matter, as well as other resources such as energy and water. Agroecosystems reflect diversity in the landscape, through crop/livestock integration and in marketing. They also seek to strengthen farmers and their communities by developing local agricultural knowledge and building ties among farmers and their consumers.
Key practices include the use of cover crops, crop rotation, reduced tillage, buffer strips, rotational grazing, seed saving and planting heirloom crops, and pasture and rangeland management.
SARE's Systems Research for Agriculture provides helpful tips for farmers or researchers interested in agroecology research. SARE agroecology books such as Building Soils for Better Crops, Crop Rotation on Organic Farms and Managing Cover Crops Profitably can help producers put agroecology in action. Rangeland Management Strategies features guidance on improving range for grazing. The SARE book Manage Insects on Your Farm: A Guide to Ecological Strategies describes how to control insect pests using a systems-level, agroecological approach.
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Pioneer Agroforestry Farm Tour Video Series
A new video series on Midwest agroforestry is available from the Savanna Institute and North Central SARE. The six-part Pioneer Agroforestry Farm Tour Video Series features brief, detailed interviews with farmers who are advancing agroforestry in the Midwest.
Enhancing Crop Yield Through Wild Pollinators
In this journal article, SARE-supported research provides a general framework and examples of approaches for enhancing pollinator richness and abundance, quantity and quality of pollen on stigmas, crop yield, and farmers’ profit, including some benefits detected only through long-term monitoring. The authors argue for integrating the promotion of wild-insect species richness with single-species management to benefit farmers and society.
Michigan Researches Use Flowering Plant Strips to Support Beneficial Insects and Increase Crop Productivity
Beneficial insects are valued on farms for their abilities to perform services like pollination and pest control. Researchers at Michigan State University are exploring whether plantings of native Midwest flowers can support beneficial insects and lead to improved crop productivity and quality. “There has been a growing interest in recent years about the economic and […]
Maintenance of Natural Sustainable Riparian Communities Fact Sheets Series
A graduate student from North Dakota State University created these five extension fact sheets after monitoring and reporting on the riparian ecosystem associated with the Middle Sheyenne River, a perennial stream in eastern North Dakota.
Sustainable Ag Poster
A poster depicting the elements of sustainable agriculture.