HOMERESUMEAGROECOLOGYOPINION
 

BRIEF BACKGROUND NOTES

I. WHAT IS AGROECOLOGY?
II. THE HISTORY OF AGROECOLOGY.
III. WHY AGROECOLOGY IS IMPORTANT.



I. WHAT IS AGROECOLOGY?

Agroecology is the science of applying principles of the science of ecology to agriculture and horticulture.

Organic gardening is centuries old and is based in real science...agroecology is that science.

Inherent in agroecology is the principle of the ecosystem. Gardens and agricultural systems are ecosystems...they can either be healthy or not healthy...the study of agroecology seeks to enhance the health of these ecosystems.

Additional principles of ecology that are important in agroecology are size of ecosystems and the interconnected/complexity characteristics of food webs that promote ecosystem stability.

The energy pyramid and ecosystem productivity are also important principles in the science of agroecology.

The concept of biodiversity is important to agroecology . The sustainability of an agricultural and garden ecosystem is influenced by its biodiversity.

Agroecology is a multidisciplinary field that includes economics and social science as well as traditional science. Harvard biologist EO Wilson refers to this interconnectedness of disciplines as consilience. The term agroecology itself is a consilience of agriculture and ecology.



II. THE HISTORY OF AGROECOLOGY

The sixties and Rachel Carson brought the science of ecology out of the academic woodwork and into the mainstream of social and political discourse.

Organic gardening had been around for centuries and indeed millennia.

Applying the scientific method in a conscious sense to organic gardening was given a boost by the University of California at Santa Cruz when the science of ecology was brought together in consilient form with agriculture. An old term…agroecology…was given renewed interest at this point.

The work of Alan Chadwick at the University of California was instrumental at this time. Chadwick had brought to California from England the work of Rudolf Steiner called biodynamics .

Today scientists Miguel Altieri at the University of California in Berkeley and Steve Gliessman at UC Santa Cruz are doing work in the field of agroecology. Ecologist emeritus William Lidicker at UC Berkeley is another interested scientist.

An international example of a scientist working today in the field of agroecology is Christos Vasilikiotis who has done research in California and is now based in Greece.



III. WHY AGROECOLOGY IS IMPORTANT

Agroecology is important because it goes beyond short-term goals and improves the long-term health and sustainability of agricultural systems. Therefore stewardship of the all important base of the human food chain is enhanced.

An important feature of agroecology is its lack of dependency on petrochemicals and oil in the cultivation of plants.

Agroecology also promotes more efficient and less depleting uses of water and land than industrial agriculture. Soil ecosystems are better preserved.

The principles of agroecology also add to the aesthetics and health of human environments.

The methods of agroecology invite participation by nonprofessionals as well as professionals in ideas and activities that are cognitively and emotionally rewarding to human beings.