Welcome to SAOSO
Agroecology and Organic Agriculture in perspective:
Organic (growing from within) is not exclusive, but includes all forms of agriculture that strive towards an input free (no external product) environment AND refrain from the use of synthetic molecules or genetic manipulated organisms.
The EU technical platform (TP Organics) for organic agriculture:
Organic farming is based on agro-ecological principleswhich create adaptive systems, and works with eco-functional intensification. Several topics aim to support the on-going debate regarding what organic farming systems can contribute to major challenges of food production, such as food security, loss of biodiversity, climate change, and the improvement of livelihoods in rural areas under the conditions of diminishing natural resources. They also cover what organic farming can contribute to preventing modern diseases, such as allergies. The TP Organics network is convinced that conducting further research on these topics will contribute to a more resource-efficient agro-food system. Many of the “grand” challenges of our society can be met through agro-ecological innovations and strategies, building on the diversity of European farming systems, better knowledge and are supported by appropriate research. (extracted from: Priority proposals and comments of TP Organics for the forthcoming 2013 calls of the EU 7th Research Framework Programme.)
Organic Agriculture (as defined by IFOAM)
Definition: 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.
Agroecology: (as described by Van der Meer and Gliessman)
Agroecology goes beyond a one-dimensional view of agroecosystems their genetics, agronomy, edaphology, etc.— to embrace an understanding of ecological and social levels of co-evolution, structure and function. Instead of focusing on one particular component of the agroecosystem, agroecology emphasises the interrelatedness of all agroecosystem components and the complex dynamics of ecological processes (Vandermeer, 1995).
Agroecosystems are communities of plants and animals interacting with their physical and chemical environments that have been modified by people to produce food, fibre, fuel and other products for human consumption and processing. Agroecology is the holistic study of agroecosystems, including all environmental and human elements. It focuses on the form, dynamics and functions of their interrelationships and the processes in which they are involved. An area used for agricultural production, e.g. a field, is seen as a complex system in which ecological processes found under natural conditions also occur, e.g. nutrient cycling, predator/prey interactions, competition, symbiosis, successional changes, etc. (Gliessman, 1998). Implicit in agroecological research is the idea that, by understanding these ecological relationships and processes, agroecosystems can be manipulated to improve production and to produce more sustainably, with fewer negative environmental or social impacts and fewer external inputs (Gliessman, 1998).
Ecological concepts are utilized to favor natural processes and biological interactions that optimize synergies so that diversified farms are able to sponsor their own soil fertility, crop protection and productivity. By assembling crops, animals, trees, soils and other factors in spatial/temporal diversified schemes, several processes are optimized (Table 4). Such processes are crucial in determining the sustainability of agricultural systems (Vandermeer et al., 1998).
Table 4. Agroecosystem process optimized through the use of agroecological technologies
• Organic accumulation and nutrient cycling.
• Soil biological activity.
• Natural control mechanisms (disease suppression of insects, weed interference).
• Resource conservation and regeneration (soil, water, germplasm, etc.).
• General enhancement of agrobiodiversity and synergisms between components.