Cleary, agriculture consumes more energy than most people previously realized. With governments placing more restrictions on carbon emissions, it’s important for farmers to do their part in reducing their carbon emissions. By doing so, they can also reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and save more money.
What is the role of energy in agriculture?
The use of machines and chemicals in agriculture has made energy one of its key inputs. Additionally, agriculture has always used solar energy, storing it in its produce that later serves as food, fuel, or other materials. Energy Expenses in Agriculture
How much does agriculture spend on energy?
Energy Expenses in Agriculture For farms in the U.S. (excluding Alaska and Hawaii) energy related expenditures during 2017 accounted for an approximate amount of 56.1 billion U.S. dollars or 15.6% of total farm expenditures.  Energy in agriculture is typically classified as direct energy and indirect energy use.
How can we generate energy from agricultural waste?
consider production of bioenergy to generate heat and/or electricity from agriculture or plantation waste and residues (wood chips to run heaters/hot water, biogas from effluent, straw for pellets or energy/heat/hydronic systems etc).
How do fossil fuels affect agricultural productivity?
After genetic improvements and mechanization, the most important contributor to modern agricultural productivity has been application of agrochemicals—mainly fertilizers and pesticides. These products require energy to produce, distribute, and apply, but fossil fuels and their derivatives are also important inputs to their manufacture.
What is the energy used in farming?
Energy Consumption of Farm Equipment. Each stage of farming requires the use of equipment and machinery that burn fossil fuels. When we burn these fuels, we add to the greenhouse gasses in the air – such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide – that result in raising the Earth’s temperature.
Why is agriculture important?
With governments placing more restrictions on carbon emissions, it’s important for farmers to do their part in reducing their carbon emissions. By doing so, they can also reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and save more money.
Why is nitrogen important for crops?
Nitrogen is necessary for photosynthesis to occur, so in order for crops to grow, the soil must have nitrogen. More nitrogen in the ground results in a better harvest. The easiest way to increase the amount of nitrogen is to apply fertilizer.
How much water does a slaughterhouse use?
Slaughtering just one animal can use up to 132 gallons of water. That matters because the water doesn’t just appear – it has to be pumped in and out of the slaughterhouse. Those pumps run on electricity, which runs on fossil fuels.
Why do we plant alfalfa in the fall?
For example, he plants alfalfa and soybeans in the fall because there is nitrogen-fixing bacteria found in the roots of these plants. When the plants die in the spring, the nitrogen is released into the soil, free to be used by the next crop planted.
What is energy consumption?
Energy Consumption in Processing, Packaging, and Transporting Food. Producing food, whether it be through growing crops or raising cattle for slaughter, is only part of the equation. How the food makes it to your plate also factors into agriculture’s dependence on fossil fuel.
What is the energy central power industry?
The Energy Central Power Industry Network is based on one core idea – power industry professionals helping each other and advancing the industry by sharing and learning from each other.
How much of the world’s population relies on agriculture?
40% of the global population rely on agriculture as a main source of income, many without energy access. Tending crops through time-intensive physical labor, their yields are inconsistent and weather-dependent compared to farmers with access to agricultural equipment.
Why is cold chain important in agriculture?
Cold chains manage the temperature of perishable goods from farm to table – maintaining quality and safety in the supply chain, reducing food loss, and enhancing income-generating opportunities.#N#Agricultural cold chains are crucial to developing markets and improving economic outcomes of agriculture-based economies. Establishing cold chains as extensive and reliable as those in industrialised countries would enable developing countries to raise food supply by 15%.
Is solar water pumping good for agriculture?
Irrigation is integral to agricultural productivity, but it is often considered to be expensive and energy intensive. Solar water pumps offer a viable alternative to electric irrigation pumps and a promising option for farmers living in off- or weak-grid areas. However, high up-front costs, variable operating environments, and lack of market intelligence to inform appropriate design considerations challenge the growth of this market.#N#Scaling the commercial market for solar water pumps will make modern irrigation more accessible and cost-effective, improving educational, nutritional, and economic outcomes. Solar water pumps also present a far-reaching opportunity to reduce the labor burden on women and girls who commonly shoulder agriculture and water-ferrying work in rural areas.
Interest Approach or Motivator
Pose two questions to students. Capture responses on a writing surface.
Agriculture can be energy intensive. Gasoline and diesel power vehicles, tractors and generators. Electricity powers lights, irrigation systems, pumps, heating and cooling units, and other automated systems. Natural gas or propane can be burned in hot water heaters or propane dryers.
The research activity can be expanded to an out-of-class group project. Have students create an audio/visual presentation of their findings and be prepared to share their findings with the class in a 5 to 10 minute presentation.
Agriculture Literacy Outcomes
Describe resource and conservation management practices used in agricultural systems (e.g., riparian management, rotational grazing, no till farming, crop and variety selection, wildlife management, timber harvesting techniques)
Education Content Standards
HS-LS2-7. Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.
Common Core Connections
SL.9–10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one–on–one, in groups, and teacher–led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
What is the most widely used energy crop?
Crops grown for energy could be produced in large quantities, just as food crops are. While corn is currently the most widely used energy crop, native prairie grasses such as switchgrass or fast-growing trees such as poplar and willow are likely to become the most popular in the future.
How does solar energy help the Earth?
While desert areas such as Arizona and Nevada get more sun than other parts of the United States, most areas receive enough sunshine to make solar energy practical. Solar energy can be used in agriculture in a number of ways, saving money, increasing self-reliance, and reducing pollution. Solar energy can cut a farm’s electricity and heating bills . Solar heat collectors can be used to dry crops and warm homes, livestock buildings, and greenhouses. Solar water heaters can provide hot water for dairy operations, pen cleaning, and homes. Photovoltaics (solar electric panels) can power farm operations and remote water pumps, lights, and electric fences. Buildings and barns can be renovated to capture natural daylight, instead of using electric lights. Solar power is often less expensive than extending power lines.
How do farmers and ranchers add to their income?
An increasing number of farmers and ranchers are now adding to their incomes by harvesting the wind that blows across their land to make electricity. And new options are becoming available. Renewable energy and farming are a winning combination.
How much will wind energy provide in 2020?
Wind energy alone could provide 80,000 new jobs and $1.2 billion in new income for farmers and rural landowners by 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Renewable energy can also help reduce pollution, global warming, and dependence on imported fuels.
How much will biomass energy provide?
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, tripling U.S. use of biomass energy could provide as much as $20 billion in new income for farmers and rural communities and reduce global warming emissions by the same amount as taking 70 million cars off the road.
What is solar energy?
Solar energy can cut a farm’s electricity and heating bills. Solar heat collectors can be used to dry crops and warm homes, livestock buildings, and greenhouses. Solar water heaters can provide hot water for dairy operations, pen cleaning, and homes. Photovoltaics (solar electric panels) can power farm operations and remote water pumps, lights, …
Do states require electricity from renewable sources?
A growing number of states are requiring electricity companies to provide some power from renewable sources, creating new markets. Other states have funds for renewable energy development. Most now allow net metering, which makes it easier and more affordable for farms to generate the power they need from renewables.
What is the relationship between agrifood and energy?
Because agriculture is the original environmental science, all technological change in food production has environmental implications, but these are especially serious in the context of conventional energy use. Agrifood sustainability is of paramount importance to us all, and this will require lower carbon pathways for agriculture.
What is the primary source of energy for humans?
Food is the primary source of our subsistence as it provides most of humanity’s biological energy. Thus, it is hardly surprising that most of the energy expended by humans during the course of their history was directed toward food gathering, production, processing, and consumption. Even early- 21st-century low-income societies still dedicate 60% to 80% of their human, animal, and other energy resources to food. 1 Although it was a potent catalyst for later transitions, energy resources played a relatively neutral role in humanity’s shift from nomadism to more sedentary agrarian life. Historians cite a variety of decisive factors influencing this process, beginning at least 10,000 years ago and lost in prehistory, but political economy was generally considered to be the most salient. 2
How did mechanization impact the industrial revolution?
Perhaps the most recognizable impact of the industrial revolution has been mechanization, a transformation of material technology made possible by harnessing fossilized solar energy, in the form of solid, liquid, and gaseous carbon fuels, to power machinery and the recursive succession of industrial production— making mechanical products with machinery. We formerly lived in a world of animal, wind, water, and solar power, but in the 21st century our world is dominated by fuel- and electric-powered devices that serve our needs in drastically different ways. In agriculture, machines help us complete every step of crop and livestock production. We discuss only the most prominent aspects of mechanization in agricultural production, but in all its dimensions the agency of carbon fuel energy and machinery has transformed the sector.
What is soil amendment?
Soil amendment to maintain or enhance plant yields has long been integral to farming, but for most of agricultural history this was confined to recycling biomass from harvests and other organic waste streams. One hundred years ago, however, a German chemist made one of the most important technical discoveries of the 20th century. Compared by some to the light bulb, aviation, and the automobile, synthetic ammonia became the primary source of manufactured fertilizer and is estimated to have increased global food production by up to 40% (Figures 7 and 8 ). This saved the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the process. 13
How does urban agriculture help the environment?
Urban agriculture on a small scale can help to localize food production, reducing the overall environmental footprint of our modern food systems. Benefits include lower greenhouse gas emissions, minimal transportation requirements, and reduced energy use for food production.
What are some examples of agricultural systems?
For example, open meadow habitats are important for species like waterfowl, amphibians and for pollinators. Some species even increase in number due to agricultural activities.
How does rotational grazing affect biodiversity?
Through grazing for a limited time period in one area, biodiversity of native plants increases because grasses have time to regrow equally without one species taking over and becoming invasive.
Why do grasslands exist?
Grasslands provide habitat to a great number of animals and native plants. These areas have been almost entirely wiped out in other countries of Europe due to modern development or intensive agriculture. In Romania, however, they still exist because of the traditional (low-impact) way of farming and seasonal grazing of livestock by shepherds.
Why is maintaining land important?
Maintaining land for agricultural use can also prevent that land from being developed and urbanized, in areas where native species have difficulty finding original habitat. The United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (FSA) created seven voluntary land conservation programs for this purpose.
How do plants and trees help the aquifer?
Plants and trees in agricultural systems help to retain and add water to underground aquifers. This process is most effective when the crops being grown are perennials that continue to grow every year and have deep, well-established root systems.
Why is irrigation needed during dry spells?
The higher the water content in the soil, the less irrigation is needed during dry spells to preserve crops, which saves significant amounts of water over the long term. In certain forms of agriculture, properly processed sewage, wastewater, and sludge can be used on the landscape instead of disposing it as waste.
Suggested Companion Resources
Interest Approach Or Motivator
Agriculture Literacy Outcomes
Education Content Standards
Common CORE Connections
Agriculture can be energy intensive. Gasoline and diesel power vehicles, tractors and generators. Electricity powers lights, irrigation systems, pumps, heating and cooling units, and other automated systems. Natural gas or propane can be burned in hot water heaters or propane dryers. Have students work in three groups to identify as many places as …