By creating an agroecological area that is a closed-system, biointensive agriculture aims to rely solely on the resources within the system.
The agroecologist views any farming system primarily with an ecologist's eye; that is, it is not firstly economic (created for a commodity and profit), nor industrial (modeled after a factory).
While farming methods vary, traditional manipulated "agroecosystems" generally differ from natural ecosystems in six ways: maintenance at an early successional state, monoculture, crops generally planted in rows, simplification of biodiversity, plough which exposes soil to erosion, use of genetically modified organisms and artificially selected crops meanwhile agroecology tends to minimize the human impact.
In industrial countries, modern agriculture with its yield maximizing high-input technologies generates environmental and health problems that often do not serve the needs of producers and consumers. In developing countries, in addition to promoting environmental degradation, modern agricultural technologies have bypassed the circumstances and socio-economic needs of large numbers of resource-poor farmers.
Agroecological research considers interactions of all important biophysical, technical and socioeconomic components of farming systems and regards these systems as the fundamental units of study, where mineral cycles, energy transformations, biological processes and socioeconomic relationships are analyzed as a whole in an interdisciplinary fashion.
[Agroecology is] The application of ecology to the design and management of sustainable agroecosystems.
[Agroecology is] A whole-systems approach to agriculture and food systems development based on traditional knowledge, alternative agriculture, and local food system experiences.
[Agroecology is] Linking ecology, culture, economics, and society to sustain agricultural production, healthy environments, and viable food and farming communities.
To put agroecological technologies into practice requires technological innovations, agriculture policy changes, socio-economic changes, but mostly a deeper understanding of the complex long-term interactions among resources, people and their environment.
A whole-systems approach to food, feed, and fiber production that balances environmental soundness, social equity, and economic viability among all sectors of the public, including international and intergenerational peoples. Inherent in this definition is the idea that sustainability must be extended not only globally but indefinitely in time, and to all living organisms including humans.