Ecology in sustainable agriculture practices and systems

C. A. Francis, P. Porter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Sustainable and productive agroecosystems must be developed that will meet today's needs for food and other products, as well as preserving the vital natural resource base that will allow future generations to meet their needs. To increase production efficiency, to improve farming strategies based on local resources, and to design systems that are resilient in the face of changing climate require thorough understanding of the ecology of agricultural systems. Organic and sustainable farmers have developed many production practices and integrated crop/animal systems that are finding application in more conventional farming enterprises. While they do seek greater resource use efficiency and substitution of more environmentally benign inputs to replace chemicals used in conventional farming, sustainable farmers increasingly depend on thoughtful redesign of production systems to provide internal management of soil fertility and pests, careful use of contemporary energy and rainfall, and reliance on internal resources rather than imported inputs. Evaluation of systems based on productivity, sustained economic return, viable environmental indicators, and equitable social consequences of agricultural production are central to future sustainable farming and food systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-73
Number of pages10
JournalCritical Reviews in Plant Sciences
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • Agroecosystems management
  • Conventional agriculture
  • Crop rotations
  • Crop/animal systems
  • Ecological practices
  • Pest management
  • Soil fertility


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