One small point seems to have escaped attention so far in this line. And as far as I remember Odum was quite clear about this.
Any vegetable crop in the world produces itself through the process of photosynthesis.
In this process a relative small percentage of the available solar energy is converted into chemical bonds and ultimately incorporated into living tissue.
No amount of diesel fuel or pesticide or complete absence of same is basically going to change this process. The influence diesel fuel has on crop growing is merely peripheral ; helping to keep down competition for the crop. Most important effect is probably reduction of need for human labor, keeping the labor market supplied and driving more people to urbanization. So the effect of tractors has environmental, economic and social aspects.
Given half a chance corn will grow whatever we do only using an absolutely free solar energy. ( essential amino acids and all ) The environmental, economic and social aspects of this basic phenomenon are thus rather different from what we choose to make of it.
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