Agroecology and Organic Farming

Understandings and definitions

My approach to Agroecology, Organic Farming and likeminded concepts

Agroecology and Organic Agriculture are farming systems from farm to fork. The science of Agroecology and well proven traditional knowledge of sustainable agriculture provide the basics for what farmers implement in practice: an ecological and social intensification of natural processes. Organic products are grown using the principles of Organic Agriculture. Everything starts with the soil, plants, animals and other natural resources and how they interact. Producers rely on diversity and try to close circles e.g. of nutrients or water in order to enhance systemic production and to create truly sustainable systems.

Organic farming goes back to the so called pioneers from around the world, who started in the early 20th century to practise, learn and teach. Their era is referred to as Organic 1.0. Later, organic farmers started to market their products with organic labels. In order to prevent misunderstandings and fraud, many movements and countries (> 80 countries) regulated the use of the term organic with minimal standards and positive lists e.g. of farm inputs. Most important standard requirements include the ban of use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides and the use of GMOs. This era, going into present days, is called Organic 2.0. It achieved a global market penetration of about 1% with some countries having passed the 10% mark. In 2017, the organic movement approved the so called Organic 3.0 strategic framework holding the position that organic farming supports truly sustainable development and that it is inclusive to other likeminded movements. It calls for a culture of innovation and true cost accounting and it recognises that third party certification is only one option of verification. Local adaptation and local ownership of the system is a precondition of success.

Agroecology has been a scientific discipline for a long time. A few decades ago, more and more farmers started to apply the theory that demands a system transformation. Today, there is a growing community that organises itself in civil society organisations (e.g. SOCLA or Agroecology Europe), which are increasingly heard by governments and international agriculture fora.

Landmarks of Agroecology and Organic Agriculture

Definition and Principles of Organic Agriculture

Organic Agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationship and good quality of life for all involved

Principle of Health

Principle of Ecology

Principle of Fairness

Principle of Care

Definition and principles are approved by the global General Assembly of IFOAM Organics International.

More explanations see IFOAM Organics International link

The 10 Elements of Agroecology


Co-creation knowledge





Human values



Circular economy

FAO promotes these 10 elements as principles of agroecology. More explanation see here: Link

More than 80 countries regulate the use of organic labelling. They have standards and conformity assessment requirements to access their markets and they publish their understanding. E.g. The EU explains details on the Website of the European Commission. link

FiBL together with IFOAM Organics International publishes organic statistics. Land use, producers and consumer purchases. link

IFOAM Organics International publishes the so called organic landmarks:

Definition and Principles

COROS/Family of Standards

IFOAM Standards

Best Practice Guidelines

Organic 3.0

Various position papers and policy briefs

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