Agroecosystems

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 cropscrop rotationreduced tillagebuffer stripsrotational grazingseed 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 CropsCrop 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.   

Showing 1-20 of 28 results

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Building Soils for Better Crops

The fourth edition of Building Soils for Better Crops—enhanced and expanded—explains how to use ecological principles to build soil health and boost fertility, yields and overall sustainability.

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What is Soil Health?

Soil health plays an essential role in raising healthy, productive crops and livestock. With this interactive infographic, learn how practices such as cover crops, no-till, crop rotation and the integration of livestock work in concert to improve soil health.

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How to Conduct Research on Your Farm or Ranch

This 32-page bulletin outlines how to conduct research at the farm level, offering practical tips for both crop and livestock producers, as well as a comprehensive list of more in-depth resources.

Cover Crops for Soil Health Workshop Video

Cover Crops for Soil Health Workshop

All session recordings and slide presentations from this three-day professional development workshop are available online. Hosted by Northeast SARE and Delaware State University in March 2016, this event addressed the latest research on the benefits and successful management of cover crops in grain, vegetable and animal production systems.

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Systems Research for Agriculture

Practical information for researchers, educators and extension professionals seeking to understand and apply systems research to agriculture.

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National Continuing Education Program

This program is designed for Cooperative Extension and Natural Resource Conservation Service personnel, and is also open to farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural professionals nationwide. It emphasizes core concepts and a basic understanding of sustainable agriculture, its goals and its relevance to every farming and ranching operation—large or small.

The core of the national continuing education program is a series of three online courses. Take them now.

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2015/2016 Report from the Field

Read about SARE-funded work in the areas of sustainable dairy cropping systems, soil health assessments, nutrient management, cover crops, beginning farmers, pollinators, technical assistance programs for women farmers, and more. This edition includes highlights of projects funded through the graduate student program, and the highly regarded Sustainable Agriculture Fellowship, a professional development program coordinated by SARE and NACAA.

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Cover Crops for Sustainable Crop Rotations

Cover crops are one of the best ways to improve soil health, reduce off-farm inputs and protect natural resources. Find a wealth of educational materials developed out of decades of SARE-funded cover crop research.

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2014 National Conference on Cover Crops and Soil Health

All session recordings and slide presentations from the National Conference on Cover Crops and Soil Health are available online. Held in 2014 in Omaha, Neb., the event brought together 300 agricultural leaders and innovators to explore how we can make American agriculture more sustainable through improved soil health. Attendees represented agricultural industry, the farm community, academia, government, commodity and conservation organizations.

Que es la Agricultura Sustentable

¿Qué es la Agricultura Sustentable?

Este reporte ganador de un premio provee un muestrario de mejores prácticas en la agricultura sustentable – desde el mercadeo y la vitalidad de la comunidad hasta cultivos de cobertura y pastoreo – así como ocho perfiles de productores, educadores e investigadores que las han implementado con éxito. 

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Edible Avalon Curriculum

This summer program curriculum teaches youth about local food systems and sustainable agriculture.  

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Cover Crops and No-Till Management for Organic Systems

This Rodale Institute fact sheet reviews the use of cover crops and no-till in organic systems, including selection, establishment and mechanical termination of cover crops; crop rotations; and energy and production budgets.

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Experimental Farm Helps North Carolina Farmers

Specialty crop farmer Alex Hitt hesitated when a team of scientists asked him to help launch a research project. Designed to test sustainable practices under the same skies and soil conditions as North Carolina's working farms, the 2,100-acre experimental farm would truly be a long-term commitment. Major results couldn't be expected for about seven years. […]

Steven Schwen

Earthen Path Organic Farm

Steven Schwen’s farming roots were established during the ‘back to the land’ movement in the 1970s. Earthen Path Organic Farm grew out of his vision of a sustainable world based on local economies.

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What is Sustainable Agriculture?

This award-winning report provides a sampler of best practices in sustainable agriculture—from marketing and community vitality to cover crops and grazing—as well as eight profiles of producers, educators and researchers who have successfully implemented them.

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Crop Rotation on Organic Farms

Crop rotation strategies that can be applied under various field conditions for conventional or organic crops to improve soil quality and health, and manage pests, diseases, and weeds