Thursday, June 26, 2003

Bailey, et al., "A comparison of energy use in conventional and integrated arable farming systems in the UK, " Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 97 (July 2003): 241-53
However, when energy use comparisons are made by weight of output, there is little difference between the two systems because of the generally lower yields per hectare under the integrated systems. Thus, initially, at a national level, it appears that a wide-spread adoption of IAFS would mean a reduction in energy use, but it would also result in less overall output. However, if national output was to be maintained under a regime of IAFS, it is clear that a larger area would have to be cultivated using more energy, with the probable result of a neutral energy effect. Furthermore, the surplus land at a national level under the current mainly conventional system, set-aside land, has an increasing value in environmental terms or as a land resource for the generation of bio-energy.
IAFS are like organic lite: they try to use fewer chemicals, reduce tillage, and so on, but they don't have to. There are so many variables in this survey that it can't be conclusive, but it is not very encouraging.

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