Energy in crops
Sat, 22 Apr 1995 18:31:59 GMT
Alice Jones asks the interesting question of the value of energy input per
bu of production vis energy/acre which is not as simple as dividing the
energy per acre by yield/acre. For example, in the midwest where Alice is
from- and we talk about land from Illinois to the 98th meridian where
irrigation may or may not be required, one can readily understand that
large 4 wheeled drive tractors, lusing best production techniques and gps
equipment can p=micro place nutrients and control both inputs and
harvesting equipment- whether natural or artificial with lower energy
inputs than having to buy a bunch of smaller tillage and management
equipment. On the other hand, new england and appalachian farms in
pennsylvania, may have different management optimization regardles of
whther it is organic or synthetic. Thus a bushel of soybeans may be more
efficiently produced on large operations in the mdwest and smaller ones in
So one hesitates, in this great united states with varied ecosystems, to
look at a cost/unit of production in any system as some universal.
Therefore one need not necessarily settle for a dogmatic answer which may
be "universal" to US agriculture.
In the west coast and midwest- the poetic "eyes to acres" ratio may be
more of a metaphor than a mandate; while it may hold in other regions of
the country. The shift from technology intensive to labor intensive may be
a good metaphor, lblut with gps, micrcomputers and good management, one may
get both minimum labor and energy both- or one might say optimized.