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End of the line: Hunger - The energy deficit in agriculture

This article from 1982 reports on the problems in industrial agriculture. A number of scandals in western European countries, as well as the notoriously shameful practice in animal factory farming in many countries, are indicative of an unchanged cluster of problems.

The energy deficit in the production of food products appears being the most important aspect of the article.

After Peak-Oil, which we reached around 2005, we'll have to get by with less energy.

The consequences are conceivable, when we take into consideration that there is no equivalent replacement for fossil energies, neither in sufficient quantities nor in quality for the various uses of oil and gas as raw material for industry.

  • Hunger 2011
  • World Energy Outlook 2010
  • Machine translation German to English - Partially corrected:

    "Energy - last stop hunger"

    Just a few decades ago agriculture produced more energy than it consumed. The meat hunger and the absurd theater of the EC [European Community, now EU] agricultural policy have pushed agriculture into the energy deficit. The waste-spiral is rotating faster and faster. At the end, hunger is waiting.
    By Gerd Schuster

    Wasting was never a peasant's virtue. The farmers put their horses to the plow, plowing and sowing, they would be dictated by their understanding of nature, laboured till their backs were bent, their hands ragged and they hoped for God's blessing for a good harvest. Wasting was unthinkable.

    That was a few decades ago. Since then, much has changed: From in Western Europe and North America the country men mostly turned into managers of suppliers for a bloated and wasteful food industry. In many cases, without their own fault, the farmers developed into more or less deranged sorcerer's apprentices in the seductive world of the miracle agrochemical industry, or injection-skilled carers of barracked speed-growing pigs with extra ribs, quadruple ham and multi-neuroses. Independent countrymen became surplus producers and subsidy recipients, battered by multiple dependencies.

    Monoculture farming, mass animal keeping, mechanization, large-scale fertilizer use, as well as herbicide, fungicide and insecticide rain, was profiatble for the industrial farmers: their workload was reduced, their crop sizes increased. Whilstin 1925 the German farmers harvested two [32] tons of wheat per hectare, in 1981 it was already more than five tons. During the same period the sugar yield increased from 28 to 50 tons, and instead of four tons of hay, farmers can now enter eight tons or more. [32]

    The yield explosion is even more evident when one compares the returns of 1880 with today's crop: In the early days of mineral fertilizer contributed the fields just a ton of wheat or eight tons of potatoes per hectare. While the wheat yield has increased fivefold to this day, the average potato crop increased fourfold to 32 tons.

    At the same time the energy base of agriculture shifted: in 1880 the muscle power of the peasant family and their draft animals provided more than 90 percent of the energy invested in the labouring of the fields. Imported animal feed accounted for only two percent, and mineral fertilizers booked at a timid 1.3 percent.

    1935 - 55 years later - still not too much had changed: human and animal labour provided about 80 percent of the energy used, chemical fertilizer 15 percent.

    The dependence of agriculture on external energy, which became indicated in 1935, is now perfect: fuel, electricity and fuel oil represent more than 50 percent, fertilizer and imported feed more than 40 percent of the fuels used. Human labor contributes only a few percent, little more than chemical pesticides, while animal work, that in 1880 achieved 60 percent of the work energy, has become a statistically insignificant figure. Energiespirale komplett...Energiespirale komplett...

    Nothing goes without external energy

    In other words: the energy revolution in agriculture brought the "modern" farmers multiplied incomes at reduced workload - both were necessary due to a significant change in social conditions - but it made them to an extreme extent dependent on foreign energy from drying-up sources that are often crisis-threatened.

    One cow, aleniated into a four-legged milk production plant, requires up to 600 kilowatthours (kWh) of electricity per year, for services that are free on pasture, such as ventilation, lighting and feeding, as well as for milk cooling, which could produce energy by using heat pumps. A socket-dependent breeding sow, whose piglets require heating with infrared lamps, needs 500 kWh per year. In so-called improving plants with a few hundred of the latest swine models easily a few hundred thousand kWh are totalled.

    The other sector of modern agricultural specialists, the cereal factories without animals, is equally dependent on foreign energy: The maize drying for instance swallows, at a harvest moisture content of 45 percent, around 500 liters per hectare yield, various hay drying processes require the three-fold.

    The explosion of the German yields per hectare 1880-1980 required energy-intensive tutoring: In this period, consumption of industrially produced nitrogen fertilizer to 150 times. Sales of potash fertilizers increased by the 110fache, the 70-fold to that of phosphates. ln the 1979/80 marketing year, the West German agriculture industry consumed fertilizers and nutrient content of 1.5 million tons of nitrogen, 1.4 million tons of lime, 1.2 million tons of potash and phosphate 900000 tonnes. This means that each hectare of cultivated area was irrigated with an average of about eight hundredweight of fertilizer.

    The dependence is increasing

    It will not stop: New high-power grain, which can cause estimates of the Detmold Federal Research Station for cereal and potato processing in 20 years up to 30 percent more income, takes a fertilizer supplement is needed, not to mention additional agrochemical prevention and care measures.

    More fertiliser purchased means more energy dependence: For the manufacture and distribution of a tonne of nitrogen fertilizer alone, about 22000 kWh of energy are required, for the 1979/80 consumed 1.5 million tons, therefore, 33 billion kWh - to a large extent in the form of fossil fuels such as natural gas, oil and naphtha, which is synthesized from under high pressure and at high temperatures, the nitrogen gas. All in all, devoured the commercial fertilizer production more energy than all German nuclear power plants supplied.

    The super-plants of the second half of the 20th Century, although there is no lack of productivity and healthy nutrient starvation, for they lack the resilience of their conservative predecessors. But here too, did the chemical industry advice while she produced fertilizers, which can increase in high doses, the vulnerability of crops to pests, they poured out their cornucopia of farmers and gardeners about 1600 preparations, which they christened in routine restraint "Pesticides": with herbicides (which plants which have the misfortune to have been classified as "weeds" to death "treated") are, with fungicidal fungicides, insect-killing insecticide, acaricide acaricides, threadlike worms killing nematicides, snail-killing molluscicides, rodent-killing rodenticides, other pesticides, Wildverbißmitteln, seed treatment products, anti-sprouting products, plant growth regulators and other additives.

    The agents were found to be similarly good business as chemical fertilizers: 1981 produced the chemical industry in the Federal Republic of 200 000 tonnes of pesticides and Schädlingsbekampfungsmittel. Of this, over 30 000 tonnes in Germany used - half a kilo per capita. According to the Environmental Report 1978, about 30 percent of the total area of ??the Federal Republic - that is about 75 000 square kilometers - covered with pesticides.

    About 85 percent of the arable land were in the enjoyment of the opinion states that "according to their maglichen environmental impacts particularly disturbing" herbicides - with about 60 percent of total sales for the big sales race ahead of the fungicides (20 percent) and insecticides (ten percent) .
    The almost predatory meat hunger of the Germans and have given of winter vegetables and other energy-consuming treats the usual wealth palate set in motion a grotesque orgy of waste, which threatens the collapse of industrialized agriculture.

    The energy-intensive chemical treatment for total cereals, fruits and vegetables includes many dozens of sprays with different means. The effects of chemical and mechanical large-scale attack on natural cycles and sensitive relationship systems are as numerous as the effects: About 30 percent of flowering plants are considered lost and endangered species on the Red List, plus more than half of the reptiles, amphibians, birds and Armies of insects.

    The coarse effect of the agro chemicals cudgel is proven by numerous ecological and economic vicious circle and chain reactions, which can occur after application of commercial fertilizers and biocides. An agricultural chemical often requires the application of another, this in turn makes a third means necessary, and so on. The number of resistant pests is increasing like an avalanche.

    Foreign power: the bane of the energy balance

    The chemical industry sees no reason for concern. Quite the contrary: According to BASF, it is soil, soil bacteria and weeds well. And anyway, the agricultural chemicals are in "proper use" completely harmless. An environmental report published in 1978 study takes this all-purpose alibi the gloss: a quarter of the surveyed farmers could start with the term "fungicide" nothing and understood 47 percent do not, which means "wait time" (to the prevention of poisoning critical period between the last spraying and harvesting) was meant. [35]

    The production used in the Federal Republic of pesticides in 1981 devoured an estimated 500 million kWh. This is generally equivalent to energy waste would be incorrect: Despite high fertilizer and chemical shares, the energy balance in crop mostly positive, that is, the additional yield carries a multiple of the invested energy. In compiling the energy balance sheets - which are to be treated with caution as they often differ by enormous factors - but many of the possible costs of industrialized agriculture are ignored. The American agricultural researcher David Pimentel, for example, calculated that in order to repair damage caused by soil erosion per hectare of about 550 kWh of energy from fossil fuels may be necessary. The humus loss is favored by monocultures, removal of hedgerows and destruction of natural soil stability due to heavy machinery and strong mineral fertilizers. Humus loss making but still higher fertilizer necessary to reduce the Bodenstabilitat again - a new cycle begins to spin.

    The yield increase due to mineral fertilizers but are limited: With an increasing amount must be paid for a revenue increase, growing fertilizer costs. This reduces the energy yield. Pimentel calculated for example, that in the 1945-1970 American Maisbau the ratio of technical expenditure results generated energy to biological energy of 1:3,7 to 1:2,8 declined - and thus deteriorated by about 25 percent. The reason: an increase in the consumption of nitrogen fertilizers by 16-fold was offset by only 2.4-fold increase in yield.

    The German grain rpoduction was similar: Increasing yield demanded by half 1950-1972 tripling the nitrogen fertilizer. Addiction symptoms? All in all, the energy balance in the industrial grain positive. The overall energy balance of agriculture in the industrialized countries is negative, according to experts, however critical, that is, it uses more technical energy than they receive in biological energy (food) supplies. Other scientists, including Professor Heinz-Lothar Wenner of the University of Munich, approve of agriculture an energy balance of about 2:1.

    Pig fattening is more important than food aid

    The energy deficit, especially the excessive consumption of meat wohlstandsgewöhnten consumer is to blame. The production of assembly-line chickens, cattle and large-scale swine industry for the most part the so-consuming grain produced is used.

    [Caption: A maze of dependencies
    The intensive farming that can be called "conventional", is shaken by dependencies. Increased output (center) is through the use of biocides, fertilizers, and industrial machinery (left) bought. This leads to the increase of monocultures and the disappearance of wetlands and copses (right). Agrochemicals, fertilizer and machinery costs money, as the drying up of wetlands and the leveling of the landscape. Higher costs (above) must be offset by higher yields, which in turn are paid for with more herbicides, fungicides and insecticides as well as opening up new areas for farming. The result: the natural circulation system is to break (down)] ] [36]

    Although cattle can convert to energy gain for people indigestible plant in meat and milk, it is the exploitation of precious food such as grain unsuitable:

    Each unit of energy in the beef must be bought with a price of about ten energy units of wheat. In the production of chicken meat, the relation between cost and benefits is even only twelve and one, eleven of the twelve fed cereal calories lost. Also of poor energy efficiency, the ratio between energy produced and invested in the production of evidence Mi1ch (5:1), eggs (4-1) and pork (3:1). Apart from extreme cases - industrial intensive cattle fattening, for which about 80 calories are thrown outside energy for a single Fleischkalorie - does a calorie of animal food in the average seven grain calories of fossil origin. Baked bread from the grain, the ratio is 1:1. In other words, from the grain that would feed 100 people in the form of bread, can live on the losses involved in chicken meat only eight people. Nevertheless, the tremendous waste goes into the large "processing plants" - when in reality only the balance of the owner of "refined" will be - happily ever after: in the 1979/80 marketing year in the Federal Republic of 26.4 million tons of grain consumed. 16.5 million tonnes (62.5 percent), immigrated in cattle troughs. In the United States is as high as nearly 90 percent in developing countries, however, only ten percent.

    6.5 million tons are equal to three quarters of the domestic grain production of 23 million tonnes. A comparison: As a German contribution to the Intemational Food Aid Convention 1979 147 800 tonnes of cereals were supplied free of charge to developing countries - almost 0.9 percent of the amount fed to the cattle.

    Soy and corn: pearls for Sows

    To saturation of undernourished people, of which there are hundreds of millions, contributed this charity of the affluent citizens do not. Quite the contrary, the orgy of waste affluent citizens to its success requires large quantities of basic foodstuffs from the developing world. The appetite of an aggravated the hunger of others. With the imported animal feed that helps produce in the European Community and elsewhere, in part, heavy surpluses, could millions of Africans, Asians and Latin Americans will be saved from painful starvation.

    In the financial year 1979/80 were in the Federal Republic of cereals consumed 26.4 million tonnes, imports included. Of these, 16.5 million tonnes (62.5 percent) migrated into cattle troughs. The German contribution to the International Food Aid Convention: 147 800 tonnes - not even the hundredth part.
    In 1980, the Federal Republic around four million tonnes of soybeans, which ended the greater part also in cattle troughs. The sows were accused to vegetable pearls: The soybean is namely a very high quality food plant, which makes only modest demands on soil and fertilizer to their crops but 40 percent protein (including all essential amino acids), contains 20 percent carbohydrates, and just as much oil. A kilo of soya beans provides as much protein as three kilos of pork or beef. But they are fed to the cattle. Transferred to fish farming that would mean about, smoking salmon trout with masts. It is hard to believe but true: Although soybeans are an ideal power food for the hungry - which almost always suffering from protein deficiency - are only about five percent of the world crop is used by about 90 million tonnes for direct human consumption.

    The reason: For the pigs in developed countries because more money than the poor in the Third World. One for the destitute particularly bitter consequence of this fact is that - often have to pay higher prices for soybean oil - practically in direct competition for food with the Western pigs. Also, the tapioca starch from the cassava root tuber derived food for the poorest, is imported as schnitzel tonic mixed feed component. 1981 established the Federal Republic more than a million tonnes of tapioca.

    When the fishing grounds in the North Sea were not yet depleted and cheap oil made thinking look superfluous, fish meal caused a protein supply in the feeding trough - a textbook example of successful energy and waste of resources: about 200 on the trawler burned calories featured a single Schweinefleischkalorie on the knuckles. In 1980, the Federal Republic of imported over 200 000 tonnes of fish meal.

    Waste for orgies About Rich

    Every citizen ate an average of 90.6 kilos of meat 1980 - half a pound per day. The value for the Developing countries: about 3.5 pounds per year - nine grams a day, according to the Agriculture and Food and Agriculture Organization of UN (FAO) is the daily protein requirement is seven grams, or about 25 grams of meat.

    In by cereals "equalization" meat produced so put much energy that it would not be surprising if it were to jump off the plate: have a ton of meat today as much primary energy is invested in three fully-grown cars According to an estimate of the Swiss Energy Foundation - the energy content of about 14 tons of coal. This corresponds to 115 000 kWh! Would it be possible to the used for a 200 Grarnm heavy steak release energy without loss, you could stock up to 70 minutes with hot water from the water heater or shave 75 days continuously.

    Not only the industrial meat production is combined with grotesque waste of energy: fried potatoes from the freezer to pre-fry, deep-frozen, chilled and then fried again. In manufacturing, transportation, distribution and preparation of canned foods often a dozen times the food energy is in the can. In greenhouse vegetables, the ratio between primary energy and energy invested proceeds are often 50 times worse. The reason for sticking to a single sheet of winter lettuce approximately ten grams of fuel oil.

    German winter tomatoes: pride before the fall?

    In the Federal Republic there was in 1980 greenhouse with a total area of ??over 34 million square meters, including flower crops. This corresponds to about 4600 football seats. The Annual fuel oil thirst: 1300 million liters. At 13.3 million square meters of vegetable Gewachshausfläche grew about 73 000 tonnes of energy-intensive goods market, including 8100 tons of lettuce and 18 300 tons of bland tomatoes, three quarters of the total harvest. [37]

    In the developed world does a unit of food energy on the dinner plate today an average of ten units of fossil energy - an extremely unhealthy relationship. ln China, however, brings a plugged in the rice-growing energy unit twenty to forty times the benefits.

    Since the Second World War, the food industries of Europe and North America have developed a truly monstrous hunger for energy from sources dry up. The galloping energy waste in an area that should produce the renewable energy actually entails, according to the Vienna energy researcher Cesare Marchetti, the risk of collapse of agriculture in developed countries.

    Despite their negative energy balance, German agriculture consumes only slightly more than a fifth of the total energy consumption in the food sector. In each case, nearly two fifths is spent on processing, packaging and transport, storage and preparation. Agriculture has a share of four to five percent on the West German primary energy consumption, and the entire food industry takes about 20 percent to complete.

    The improvement up to the extreme is therefore within the realm of possibility: If all countries in the world can afford a deficit of Agriculture orbild under U.S. federal or German V, the fossil energy reserves in a few years had been consumed.

    EC market: Theatre of the Absurd

    The federal government is doing its part that the grotesque waste of energy goes on as before: Although the agricultural market of the European Community (EC), first established in laudable intention has become a billion-devouring Moloch and bursting at the financial and economic seams, the wasteful overproduction of food and supports their subsequent waste further. Despite wine-Sea, milk powder Matterhorn, butter mountains, mountains of meat and wheat, sugar, fruit and vegetable farmers are heaps more driven to overproduce. Warm rain subsidy, generous guaranteed prices, investment subsidies, interest subsidies and loans to ensure that the farmers are powerful and energy-intensive production by the needs. Highly subsidized agricultural products will be an additional financial burden back down subsidies to be squandered abroad in a sort of permanent clearance sale. Imported will be re-exported, and high-quality food products are prepared systematically and huge cost to inferior. This shameful charade will cost huge amounts of energy.

    [Caption: The natural cycle lost out Nutrient cycle old and new: In the natural cycle (left) provide the Sun with energy mixed cultures supplied food for humans and animals, organic waste is fed to the floor directly or by way of fecal matter again and then processed by small and micro-organisms to plant nutrients , which together with natural minerals for fertility. The "modern" circuit (right) is no longer cycle: energy from overseas and the power plant (for fertilizers and agrochemicals) is together with the sun for growth. The organic waste moves into the garbage and sewage. Only a small portion is returned to the ground, where life is ruined by fertilizers and chemicals much. Without external energy is no more.]

    Example skimmed milk powder: Before, when it in the agriculture of Europe or reasonable was done, the farmers have received from the Mollkerei which processed their milk into butter, return the milk - a valuable livestock feed. Then attacked the EC bureaucrats who were already working towards the establishment of the butter mountain, in the altbewahrten a circle. The result: The milk in 1974 were so expensive that the withdrawal of Magermileh for the farmers was no longer attractive. [38] The skim milk floods managed the community lived in a complex manner from the neck: it dried. At around 180 degrees eleven liters skimmed milk shrink in "spray towers" to a kilo Magermilchpu1ver. Per liter of milk are necessary for the drying of about 50 cubic centimeters Ö. For thickening a skimmed milk sea of ??over 20 billion liters in 1978 alone, the EC about a billion liters Ö been frittered away.

    In bizarre, energy-intensive and billions Mark costing detours achieved most of the skimmed milk powder mountain range - in the summer of 1976 it comprised a proud 1.4 million tonnes - the original goal of the skim milk to calves trough, a feed additive or as a powder, again with warm water must be mixed with milk. The result: The EC-milk intervention will cost around 1.5 million dollars per hour.

    Example butter: In the fall of 1979 completed 540 000 tonnes of butter, the EC warehouses. Storage and cooling down from 500 000 tonnes of milk fat per year cost more than one billion kWh. Verschleuderungsaktionen abroad cost additional billions of marks. Nevertheless, the milk production of the EC estimates that the Bonn-based market researcher Professor Rudolf-Ernst and Heinrich Wolffram Hantelmann will increase 1981-1986 by six million tonnes to 110 million. Additional costs for the EC agricultural budget: 70 billion marks.

    Example wines: 1981, "verspritet" in the EC incredible 1.7 billion liters of wine, that is, boiled in a ratio of eleven to one at large energy losses to alcohol. For the distillation of 150 million liters of alcohol - which can be industrially produced at a fraction of the cost - were around 115 million liters of oil in F1ammen.

    Example fruits and vegetables: In 1980, over one million tons of perfect apples, pears, tomatoes, peaches and oranges "intervention" as an EC-Chinese for "withdrawal from the market" is. 360 000 tonnes were fed, changed 270 000 tonnes in alcohol and delivered 60 000 tonnes in schools and nursing homes. 340 000 tonnes or 33 percent rotten on rubbish tips.

    Surpluses in the EC - hunger in the Third World

    Although the bursting of the EC agricultural market of all financial and economic seams that ÜberproduktiQn of food and its subsequent waste also has the official blessing. Despite wine-Sea, Mllchpulver-Matterhorn, butter mountains, mountains of meat, wheat, sugar, fruit and vegetable farmers piles are driven on to the over-production.
    As reported by the Bundes1andwirtschaftsministeriums EC surpluses currently amount to 400 000 tonnes of butter and skimmed milk powder. ln the Community 200 000 tonnes of butter, 280 000 tonnes of milk protein and 200 000 tonnes of beef are stockpiled. As Minister Josef Ertl said in late 1979 in a magazine interview? "But even if gasoline costs 1.20 to 1.30 marks, the agricultural energy sources are interesting, and our surpluses will disappear."

    Ertl's Ministry pointed out explicitly, That the surpluses of beef and milk (the "self sufficiency" of the Federal Republic of amounts of skimmed milk powder, 244 percent, with butter 132 percent and for beef and veal 106 percent) due largely to imports of animal feed from third countries "were.

    Partly that's right: Although the over-production mainly due to politically directed economic incentives, and the feed imports, the German farmers spend more money than chemical fertilizers are mainly a consequence of the pulses from Bonn and Brussels.

    Through the feed exports for developing countries often in a vicious circle of hunger: your cereal, soy and tapioca exports at the expense of the poor produce in the EC, the super-heated greenhouse in the agricultural protectionism surpluses. (Only the French agricultural surplus in 1980 had almost 14 million people eat Konner.) The annoying food from the dump with the aid of subsidies as cheaply thrown on the world market, that the poorest countries there are hardly any sales opportunities for their products. An example of this macabre displacement mechanism, the sugar market.

    Each kilometer of the grotesque aberration of food in the maze of the world market is paved with large amounts of wasted fossil fuels, combined each ton of excess product with a gain of function of feed and energy imports, as well as an increase in the chemical and mineral fertilizers addiction of the industrially used farmland.

    Without a change of course: Over saturated until tomorrow

    The deficit of Agriculture has no future. There can not change the chemical industry, which - dismiss organic farming as a recluse hobby - having regard to their information and research monopoly.

    Numerous comparisons have shown that organic farming can be considerably less external energy consumption in most comparable to or slightly reduced bring income to spare in milk yield and has no comparison needs healthier livestock. Its economic base is secured. (See also the zero point and the books 6 / 81 and 9 / 81 by nature.)

    The picture would certainly be much cheaper if used for the farmers who want to work with nature instead of against it, the organic and industrial fertilizers and pesticides in environmental factors and not too thinly, so much scientific capacity would be available as for the "sober agricultural practices" of the BASF-school. New, could open up to the needs of the "alternatives" tailored varieties of plants and "natural pesticides" on the basis of the chemical companies for decades ignored proud plant own antibodies to new dimensions.

    The Western Europe and the United States in meat and bread on previous waste orgy could namely suddenly come to an end: as a result of overproduction additionally reinforced high dependence on imports of fossil fuels and animal feed - also a form of energy - the net self-sufficiency of the EC moves according to the Annweiler economist Dr . Schüttauf Werner "at the hunger threshold of 60 percent." By the agricultural and nutrition policy as issued in the company of excess hunger is inevitable: "No continent is at risk of hunger such as Western Europe." At this bitter truth can also mountain meat and milk seas ahead. Quite the contrary.
    In the next issue: Tips for saving energy [39]
    Transcript of Issue 3, March 1982, of the journal "natur", pages [32-39].
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