1067-4136/02/3302- $27.00 © 2002
Russian Journal of Ecology, Vol. 33, No. 2, 2002, pp. 92–96. Translated from Ekologiya, No. 2, 2002, pp. 103–107.
Original Russian Text Copyright © 2002 by Mirkin, Suyundukov, Khaziakhmetov.
The main function of any autotrophic ecosystem
consists of primary biological production (PBP) by
producers; secondary biological production (SBP) by
consumers, which “process” the producers; and subse-
quent decomposition of organic matter by reducers,
sometimes through the stage of organic matter conser-
vation in detritus. These processes account for the turn-
over of substances, which requires constant supply of
energy (in most ecosystems, solar energy).
In natural ecosystems, the cycles of matter and
transfer of energy through food chains are maintained
by self-organization mechanisms. As a result, the
inﬂow and outﬂow of matter are equilibrated in stable
ecosystems, and the composition of their biota is con-
stant. The situation changes when natural ecosystems
are replaced by agricultural ecosystems, or agroecosys-
tems (AESs). In this case, the basis of ecosystem func-
tioning, photosynthesis by producers, is retained; how-
ever, the AES composition and the quantitative param-
eters of its functioning are managed by man.
THE STRATEGY OF AES MANAGEMENT
Man is on the top of the ecological pyramid and is
interested in straightening food chains in order to
obtain the maximum possible PBP and SBP of appro-
priate quality (Odum, 1987). To perform environmental
management (Tolstikhin and Troﬁmtsev, 1998), people
supply additional anthropogenic energy to AESs. The
amount of this energy is incomparably smaller than the
generous ﬂows of solar energy through the ecosystem.
However, this anthropogenic energy is the cause of all
the disasters befalling agriculture nowadays (especially
soil degradation and the loss of biodiversity).
A new interdisciplinary applied science, agroecol-
ogy, has been created to develop methods for coping
with the disasters and preventing them in the future.
Agroecology is the foundation of food safety (Mirkin
and Khaziakhmetov, 2000); in a broad sense, this is an
approach based on the management of the processes
occurring in AESs in order to obtain high-grade prod-
ucts of crop and livestock farming while preserving the
agricultural resources. As a result of ecologically ori-
ented management, the functional parameters of an
AES approximate those of a natural ecosystem with the
closed cycles of matter; in other words, the AES
approaches sustainability. In such an AES, man’s activ-
ity in agriculture never violates the ecological impera-
The management of AESs is an economic as well as
an ecological task: an AES is a production enterprise
rather than a reserve, and it is to be proﬁtable; therefore,
the cost of management must be reasonably low.
According to the adaptive approach (Zhuchenko,
1990), AES management should maximize photosyn-
thetic solar-energy ﬁxation per unit anthropogenic
energy supplied to the AES. Note that nature keeps its
“commanding position” in an AES: at realistic costs of
management, the climate and relief remain out of con-
trol, as does the upper limit of plant productivity
(Brown, 1996; 1997). This poses restrictions on the sys-
tem of AES management.
THE TACTICS OF AES MANAGEMENT
AES management is a multidimensional task, with
specialists from various ﬁelds united by the interdisci-
plinary science of agroecology being involved in solv-
ing it. The table shows the objectives and methods of
AES management grouped into six units.
Management of an Agroecosystem
B. M. Mirkin, Ya. T. Suyundukov, and R. M. Khaziakhmetov
Bashkir State University, ul. Frunze 32, Ufa, 450074 Bashkortostan, Russia
Received July 10, 2000
—Agroecosystems (AESs) are autotrophic ecosystems managed by man. The goal of the management
is to obtain the maximum possible amount of high-quality agricultural products while preserving agricultural
resources, primarily the soils and biodiversity. The main components of the management of AES structures and
functions, including primary and secondary biological production, the ratio between the energy ﬂows in the
plant–man and plant–livestock–man food chains, the efﬁciency of energy transfer in the plant–livestock link,
and conservation of agricultural resources, are considered.
: agroecosystem, biodiversity, secondary biological production, hydrologic conditions, plant protec-
tion, primary biological production, food chains, soils, management.