TABLE 3-1 An Illustration of Activities and Practices Used to Achieve Agroecological Sustainability Goals and of Indicators for Evaluating Sustainability

Agroecological Sustainability Goals

Examples of Indicators


Examples of Practices

1. Satisfy human food, fiber, feed, and fuel needs




a. Sustain adequate crop production

• Yield per unit area, yield per unit resource use (energy, water, and nutrients)

• Crop management

• Fertility, pest, and water management (see below for specifics). Plant breeding and genetic modification to improve yield and stress tolerance.



• Plant breeding

• Crops bred for increased resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses, enhanced nutrient use efficiency, and yield stability

b. Sustain adequate animal production

• Production per unit land, production per animal, production per unit resource use (energy, water, nutrients), mortality, duration of productive life, conversion of feedstuff to human edible products, animal health

• Animal husbandry

• Use of local feedstuffs, careful use of resources (labor, water, energy), breeding for increasing feed efficiency, animal health and welfare, herd health management (disease prevention), improved housing environments, judicious use of antibiotics, waste management, manure applications to field, and advanced treatment technologies for manure

2. Maintain and enhance environmental quality and resource base




a. Maintain or improve soil quality

• Soil nutrient levels, nutrient use efficiency

• Soil-fertility management

• Fertilizer and organic amendment application, use of soil and tissue tests, nutrient budget calculations


• Soil organic matter content, microbial and macrofaunal populations and communities

• Organic-matter management

• Conservation tillage, organic amendments, composts, green manure


• Soil physical structure such as bulk density, water-holding capacity, aggregate stability, porosity, water infiltration rate

• Organic-matter management

• Conservation tillage, organic amendments, compost, green manure

b. Maintain or improve water quality

• Fertility inputs, field or farm nutrient budget balances, nutrient, pesticide, and pathogen concentrations in water courses, leaching estimates, nutrient or water model outputs

• Soil-fertility management

• Use of nutrient budgets, use of slow release fertilizers and organic amendments, plant nutrient tissue tests, soil nutrient tests, manure disposal

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