Agro-ecology takes greater advantage of natural processes and beneficial on-farm interactions in order to reduce off-farm input use and to improve the efficiency of farming systems. Technologies emphasized tend to enhance the functional biodiversity of agro-ecosystems as well as the conservation of existing on-farm resources. Promoted biotechnologies such as cover crops, biofertilizer, ecological farming, intercropping, agroforestry and crop – livestock mixtures are multi-functional as their adoption usually means favorable changes in various components of the farming systems at the same time. Most of these biotechnologies may function as an “ecological turntable” by activating and influencing components of the agro ecosystem and processes such as:
- Recycling of biomass and balancing nutrient flow and availability;
- Securing favorable soil conditions for plant growth, through enhanced organic matter and soil biotic activity;
- Minimizing losses of solar radiation, air, water and nutrients by way of microclimate management, water harvesting and soil cover;
- Enhancing species and genetic diversification of the agro-ecosystem in time and space; and
- Enhancing beneficial biological interactions and synergisms among agro-biodiversity components resulting in the promotion of key ecological processes and services.