Sunday, November 13, 2016

How Agriculture Uses Energy

Farm field (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
When we think of ways to reduce emissions of toxic gas contributing to global warming, the suggestions brought up first are usually buying a car that has better gas mileage, recycling and composting, or buying energy-efficient appliances.  All of these are excellent ways to help reduce energy consumption.

Agriculture in America, however, is responsible for about 14-18 percent of overall greenhouse gas emissions.  In terms of solving the worldwide energy crisis, one of the best solutions is staring us right in the plate.

Energy Consumption of Farm Equipment
Each stage of farming requires the use of equipment and machinery that burn fossil fuels. 7 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.

While tractors may be the first piece of equipment that comes to mind when farm equipment is mentioned, other energy-consuming machines don’t get as much attention.  For example, we don’t usually associate slaughtering animals with water consumption, but we should. 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.  When the fact that roughly 55 billion animals are slaughtered each year is considered, this is truly astounding.

Although farmers can’t control the demand for meat, there is still a way to reduce reliance on fossil fuels in farming.  Specifically, farmers who increase the amount of land that is no-till – for example, not cultivating dirt before planting seeds – reduce soil erosion as well as decrease overall diesel consumption.  In fact, if farmers collectively doubled the acreage that is no-till, it could save up to 217 million gallons of diesel fuel each year.

Read more at How Agriculture Uses Energy

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