Ecologically intensive agriculture

Scale level :

Synonym(s) : EIA

Definition :

Ecologically intensive agriculture (EIA) is an agricultural way of production based on the sustainable use of ecosystem services in agroecosystems. The term “intensive” refers to getting higher productivity (concerning plants or cattle) while boosting the natural features of agroecosystems. The EIA notion was formalized in 2007 during the Grenelle Environment Forum. However, in 1986, the CIRAD (The French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development) developed the concept of ecological intensification.

Ecologically intensive agriculture tries to replace the use of chemicals and fossil energies with natural mechanisms such as biocontrol, pest control and those which lead to the soil natural fertility. The use of natural services is not common in the management of conventional agriculture.

However, EIA makes possible the resort to inputs if their use does not compromise the ability of the agroecosystem to produce its own services. It can also include genetic improvement or genetically modified organisms.

In accordance with the pillars of sustainable development, the ecological intensity should follow the economic and social situation of the farm. It must be compatible with the farmer’s lifestyle quality and provide him/her with decent income.

Thus, EIA adopts the agroecological principles through the use of ecosystem services. However, it is completed by its notion of intensification.

Published on 20 February 2019
Bibliographic references :

FAO. Changing paradigms of agriculture. AGP – Ecological Intensification. Consulted on December 20th, 2018.

Terrena. Ecologically Intensive Farming as a technological foundation. Consulted on December 26th, 2018.

Tittonell P. 2014. Ecological intensification of agriculture — sustainable by nature. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, (8), pp 53 – 61. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2014.08.006.

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