arm: Here the authors are saying they are testing the difference in the use
of fossil fuels to farm. Conventional system vs. and organic system.
Substitution for factors of production previously produced on the farm has
led to considerable differentiation in places between conventional and
organic agriculture in terms of orgnisation and energie-use structure.
arm: Not the best worded sentence. But it is an abstract, well known for
their notoriously complicated sentence structures. In a nut-shell they are
saying conventional agriculture has "substituted for factors of production
previously produced on the farm". In other words, instead of producing
fertilizers on their farm they buy them off of the farm. This has resulted
in the "differentiation" between organic and conventional systems of
production vis-a-vis, "organization and energy-use".
Particulary noteworthy in this respect is the replacement of leguminous
fodder crops by mineral nitrogen fertiliser for the cultivation of
nonleguminous fodder crops (incl.ley, maize), and by bought-in fodder.
arm - No longer do conventional farmers use their farm livestock's manure
for nitrogen they also buy their livestock's "fodder" instead of raising a
leguminous crop like alfalfa which would in turn build nitrogen and soil
This has led to a situation today where structure- and system-dependent
differences in efficiency and energy balance in the use of fossil energy
sources arising through organic farming methods can achieve economies in
fossil energy of 65 %, and thus a reduction in climat- relevant carbon
dioxide emission of some 60 %.
arm - This one's a little hairy, but I believe the author's are saying the
organic producers use 65% less energy when they farm and therefore have a
60% reduction in the Carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. One must
realize the tremendous amount of energy required to convert atmospheric
nitrogen into anhydrous ammonia. On top of that there is the energy
required to make the petro-chemicals necessary for pesticides and
herbicides. A large credit exists for organic farmers because they do not
use these products. Instead they use green manures (which take carbon
dioxide OUT of the atmosphere) and livestock manure in conjunction with crop
rotations for pest control. This also helps explain the next two sentences.
The amount of enrgy consumed through organic farming in vegetation year
1991/92 was 6828 MJ/ha on average through conventional full-time farming,
with corresponding carbon dioxide emissions of 503 kg CO2/ha "organic" in
contrast to 1253 kg CO2/ha "conventional". The low carbon dioxide emission
in organic farming is largely due to the renunciation of mineral nitrogen
fertilisers and chemical-synthetic plant protection agents, and also to the
reduced amounts of bought-in fodder used.
arm - See above. Here the authors are simply using terminology only
understood by people who live in a world where energy exists in many
different states. For most lay people energy is best understood through our
temperature gauge on our car, or the thermostat setting in our house, or the
oven settings. MJ is probably Mega Joules (a joule times one thousand), kg
is kilograms, and ha is hectares.
The reduced emission of the climate-relevant trace gas carbon dioxide in
organic agriculture represents a further environmential contribution
inherent in this production system.
arm - In the future when trying to understand any technical document, I've
found it helps emmensly to break the narrative down into essential elements,
decipher those elements, and then put the puzzle back together. An
essential element can be anything from one word to entire paragraphs or
chapters depending on the complexity and your ability of comprehension.
In short, conventional farmers put more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere
than organic farmers. This is because of their differences of organization
and systems approach. Organic farmers raise forage and cover crops, use
crop rotation, and recycle livestock manure to manage their need for
fertility, pest management, and livestock feed. Conversely, conventional
farmers buy off-farm inputs to control fertility, pests, and often buy
livestock fodder instead of growing it. This results in organic farmers
using 65% less fossil fuel than conventional farmers with a consequent
reduction of 60% of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.
Hope this helps.
CROPP Cooperative/Organic Valley
PO Box 159
La Farge, WI 54639
"Live like you'll die tomorrow. Farm like you'll live forever."
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