Séverin Hatt (1, 2, 3)*, Sidonie Artru (1, 4)*, David Brédart (1, 5), Ludivine Lassois (1, 4), Frédéric Francis (1, 2), Éric Haubruge (2), Sarah Garré (1), Pierre M. Stassart (5), Marc Dufrêne (1, 6), Arnaud Monty (1, 6), Fanny Boeraeve (6)
(1) University of Liège - Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech. TERRA. AgricultureIsLife. Passage des Déportés, 2. BE-5030 Gembloux (Belgium). E-mail: Severin.Hatt@ulg.ac.be (2) University of Liège - Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech. Agrobiochem. Functional and Evolutionary Entomology. Passage des Déportés, 2. BE-5030 Gembloux (Belgium). (3) Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Institute of Plant Protection. State Key Laboratory for Biology of Plant Diseases and Insect Pests. West Yuanmingyuan Road, 2. 100193 Beijing (China). (4) University of Liège - Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech. Biosystems Engineering. Forest Resource Management. Passage des Déportés, 2. BE-5030 Gembloux (Belgium). (5) University of Liège. Campus of Arlon. SEED - Socio-economy, Environment and Development Unit. Avenue de Longwy, 185. BE-6700 Arlon (Belgium). (6) University of Liège - Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech. Biosystems Engineering. Biodiversity and Landscape. Passage des Déportés, 2. BE-5030 Gembloux (Belgium).
* These authors contributed equally to this paper.
Received on March 30, 2015; accepted on April 11, 2016.
Introduction. Multiple environmental and socio-economic indicators show that our current agriculture and the organization of the food system need to be revised. Agroecology has been proposed as a promising concept for achieving greater sustainability. This paper offers an overview and discussion of the concept based on existing literature and case studies, and explores the way it questions our current research approaches and education paradigms. Literature. In order to improve the sustainability of agriculture, the use of external and chemical inputs needs to be minimized. Agroecological farming practices seek to optimize ecological processes, thus minimizing the need for external inputs by providing an array of ecosystem services. Implementing such practices challenges the current structure of the food system, which has been criticized for its lack of social relevance and economic viability. An agroecological approach includes all stakeholders, from fiel to fork, in the discussion, design and development of future food systems. This inclusion of various disciplines and stakeholders raises issues about scientists and their research practices, as well as about the education of the next generation of scientists. Conclusions. Agroecology is based on the concept that agricultural practices and food systems cannot be dissociated because they belong to the same natural and socio-economic context. Clearly, agroecology is not a silver-bullet, but its principles can serve as avenues for rethinking the current approaches towards achieving greater sustainability. Adapting research approaches in line with indicators that promote inter- and transdisciplinary research is essential if progress is to be made.Keywords. Alternative agriculture, agrobiodiversity, ecosystem services, socioeconomic organization, marketing channels, interdisciplinary research, participatory approaches, innovation adoption.