OT: Have we become that stupid ..

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Robatoy wrote:

That isn't true at all. Modern equipment is far more fuel efficient in terms of acres covered and bushels produced per gallon than your father's Olds^h^h^h^h err, tractor... :)

Have you specific data to back this up? Some products, such as lettuce are grown for reasons other than coloric content. Does that mean they shouldn't be grown?

There're are some problems, granted, but for the most part this is a far overblown problem. That said, I'd like to see a reduction in the size of hog operations, but it isn't economically feasible any longer, thanks to the same mindset that drives current consumers to Wally-World to save a penny.
...
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[snippage]

The equipment is more efficient, yet its role in the process is more prominent. So you gain on the gals/HP ratio, but lose it by using it more.

I was on your side in my search for proof before. I was provided with a whack of footnotes all finding the juxtaposition of 'calories in vs calories out'. The argument made sense at 72 cents per litre, I have no reason to argue the validity at $ 1.03 per litre. Lettuce hasn't inflated 25%.... oh yes.. lettuce. Lettuce supports our craving for dressings. It's a symbiotic adventure.

That would apply to the growing of flowers as well. (A very lucrative business. Those dudes fly their own fleet of refrigerated 747's. NY-Amsterdam.... Every day. Flowers for the wives/girlfriends of smelly hippies. The ones holding out for their partners to move them up from an Aviator to a Navigator. Life is sooo complex!)

I respect you enough (by reading your positions on other threads) not to take your stance for granted.

See above. *G*
Those meat-raising machines produce wicked outflow. The by-product of protein enhancement is very efficient. All its by-products are very compact/concentrated. Dangerous shit, dude! The crack of effluents.

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Robatoy wrote:

No, that isn't true. Modern farming covers <much> more ground per operational pass than before and also uses fewer operations. If not, there's no way one could even begin to stay in business w/ >$2 diesel and <$3 wheat.
As an example, when I was in high school, for milo we planted, knife-sledded, cultivated and then "laid-by". Depending on the year, we might also have needed one or two passes for herbicides or pesticides. This was w/ a 4-row planter and cultivator. Now, we plant and do a single cultivation w/ a 12-row rig and one herbicide application, so there is combination of at least two fewer operations plus only one-third the passes through the field. The net result is larger consumption/hr but far higher acreage covered/gallon.

Exactly...many crops aren't grown for their caloric balance so that was actually a red herring in the discussion. I threw in the lettuce example as it is a product of value w/ <no> net caloric input to the consumer but of value for other reasons--some health-related, some simply (as your flowers) for the aesthetics.

Thanks, I try to be at least <halfway> reasonable... :)

The major problems imo arise from the location of the earliest large operations in places like NC where there are both high (human) population densities as well as a rainy climate and high water tables. These conditions exacerbate the issues. In arid areas such as here, the problems are not nearly as difficult to deal with and low population densities mean one can place facilities (for the most part) away from areas of occupation.
What I objected to is the phrase "environmental disaster". It's a sensationalism that is simply not justified any more than much of the same verbiage used against industrial production. Much of it has been a ploy by other activists w/ a secondary agenda.
I don't like the advent of the really large operations, but unless one is able to convince a major segment of the population to quit looking for the "low-price spread" as in the above comparison to W-M, it is not going to be able to be substantially changed. It is simply not possible to raise hogs on a small scale and compete w/ Seaboard economically except for very small niche markets. And, there is only sufficient demand to support those markets in/near metropolitan areas which have the population base and disposable income to support them.
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Duane Bozarth wrote:

Oh, and I forgot to add in the speed factor...for example, back then I listed (that's planting) at 3-1/2 to 4 mph tops, cultivated at <maybe> 4-1/2. Now, planters run at 6-7 mph and cultivation at 5+. So, while not as big a percentage gain as the change from 4 to 12 rows, there's another factor of something like almost 2 in acreage covered/hour which negates the (per hour) higher fuel consumption rate--the hours aren't near what they used to be per acre.
Actually, it's now turned into quite an acrobatic excercise to keep a rig on line and operate at the speeds one travels...It's quite a developed art to keep the end of something over 30' wide trailing along behind some 15' or so within a couple inches of where one wants it and get it turned around w/o running over a fence or utility pole at the end of the row... :)
As I think back writing this, I recall at that time there was besides myself Dad, my brother and at least one full-time hand. Other than Dad who spent (I'd estimate) roughly half of his time over-seeing and doing various other taks, the rest of us stayed in the fields essentially full-time all summer. Now the same acreage is covered by myself w/ only a part-time hand during harvest and peak planting (if I can find one capable at the right time). And that isn't a continuous all-summer work schedule as it used to be--it's long, hard days during operations-time to get over the necessary ground when it needs to be done, but it's now an operation and then wait for the next instead of continuously trying to get caught up. This is owing to both the larger equipment and higher speeds as well as to the change in farming practices.
HTH...
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[...]
You also have to consider the resources used for fertilizer, herbi-/pesti-/whatevercides, transporting the produce fom the agrarian states where it grows to the populated places where its converted to waste again...
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You are correct. It doesn't just relate to the farm equipment. I should have been more specific. It's not just the fuel a tractor burns.
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Juergen Hannappel wrote:

Those inputs are factors, yes, but it is those inputs which allow for the increased production and reduction in other inputs. As I noted in an almost parallel to this thread some months ago, if my inputs in those areas rise drastically, my banker will want to know why when he looks at my request for next year's operating loan...and I'll know already when I look at the total production cost...

That's a fixed factor independent of the production cost--it's simply a factor of life that city folk can not produce the stuffs they eat.
I could grow a smaller amount of grain w/ fewer inputs, but the cost of taking that to market and more significantly, the retransportation cost from the local elevator to the miller, then the transfer of the flour to the baker and the subsequent delivery of the bread to the store are the same irregardless of the method of production of the original wheat (except that the quality is probably significantly less owing to the change in production techniques).
What it costs the urban dweller to go to from the store is also fixed whether they walk, ride the bus, take a cab, ride the subway, drive their car, have their chaffuer go get it, or have it delivered.
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[...]
But if more peopl;e were involved in argarian production and less in business consultancy the overall amount of transportation could be less, if you had smaller towns (which would also be less hazardous in case of hurricanes and other disasters; one would think the SF earthquakes, the bombings of Hiroshime, Hamburg, Dresden, the 9/11 attacks and now the flooding of NO, togheter with stuff like the yearly stampedes at Mecca should persuade anyone not to live in huge clusters of many people).
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mailto: snipped-for-privacy@physik.uni-bonn.de Phone: +49 228 73 2447 FAX ... 7869
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[...]

Probably the people who suffer now from Katrina, especially those who died are the true avantgarde of mankind: They go first where the rest will follow after some time...
--
Dr. Juergen Hannappel http://lisa2.physik.uni-bonn.de/~hannappe
mailto: snipped-for-privacy@physik.uni-bonn.de Phone: +49 228 73 2447 FAX ... 7869
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Juergen Hannappel wrote:

If pigs had wings....
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Juergen Hannappel wrote:

Let's test this theory in the realm of Reality. We have a very long running example of *exactly* this sort of agrarian centric economy. Of the 10,000 or so recorded years of human existence, about 9800 of them were primarily agrarian. Let's call those the "A Years". About 200, give or take, have been industrial. Let's call those the "I Years". Now, let's compare:
A Years I Years -----------------------------------------
Everyone farms to eat Specialist farmers feed us all better than ever
Short lifespan Long lifespan (even shorter for women)
Lots of disease Vastly diminishing disease
Lots of starvation Minimal famine (Insufficient Food) (Plenty of food - caused by tribal politics)
Grueling work environment Comfortable work environment (mostly)
Many mouths to feed Families only have "replacement" children (need them to farm)
Filthy environment Overall much cleaner environment
Rotten teeth Great dentistry
No free time Lots of free time
Lots of political oppression An increasing number of Free Peoples
Yeah, that's just what I want to do - go back to an agrarian base for most people so we can live short, brutish, lives, watch our many children die or starve, watch our women die at 30, live with filth, disease, and misery.
Go read a history book.
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Tons.
" It is estimated that the average U.S. farm uses a total of 3 calories of fossil energy to produce each calorie of food energy."
http://www.sustainabletable.org/issues/energy /
http://www.jhsph.edu/Environment/CLF_Press/CLF_publications/WhitePaper.ht ml
(The Johns Hopkins people aren't just a few liberal bloggers..*S*)
A few more references:
1. Energy Information Administration "State Energy Data Report 1999: Energy Consumption Estimates by Source, Selected Years 1960-1999, United States" U.S. Department of Energy, 1999. 2. Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) "Clean Energy: Backgrounder: the sources of energy" UCS February, 2003. 3. Union of Concerned Scientists. "The Hidden Cost of Fossil Fuels" UCS, 2002. 4. Horrigan, Leo, Robert S. Lawrence, and Polly Walker. "How Sustainable Agriculture Can Address the Environmental and Human Health Harms of Industrial Agriculture." Environmental Health Perspectives Vol 110, 5 May 2002. 5. Soil Conservation Council of Canada . "Global Warming and Agriculture: Fossil Fuel" Factsheet volume 1, #3. January 2001. 6. Horrigan, Leo, Robert S. Lawrence, and Polly Walker. "How Sustainable Agriculture Can Address the Environmental and Human Health Harms of Industrial Agriculture." Environmental Health Perspectives Vol 110, 5 May 2002. 7. Norberg-Hodge, Helena , Todd Merrifield, and Steven Gorelick. Bringing The Food Economy Home: Local Alternatives to Global Agribusiness. Bloomfield , CT : Kumarian Press. 2002. p.18. 8. Pirog, Rich. "Checking the Food Odometer: Comparing Food Miles for Local Versus Conventional Produce Sales in Iowa Institutions." Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. July 2003. 9. Ibid. 10. Norberg-Hodge, Helena , Todd Merrifield, and Steven Gorelick. Bringing The Food Economy Home: Local Alternatives to Global Agribusiness. Bloomfield , CT : Kumarian Press. 2002. p.32 11. Pirog, Rich. "Checking the Food Odometer: Comparing Food Miles for Local Versus Conventional Produce Sales in Iowa Institutions." Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. July 2003. 12. Soil Conservation Council of Canada . "Global Warming and Agriculture: Fossil Fuel" Factsheet volume 1, #3. January 2001. 13. Ibid. 14. Ibid. 15. Norberg-Hodge, Helena , Todd Merrifield, and Steven Gorelick. Bringing The Food Economy Home: Local Alternatives to Global Agribusiness. Bloomfield , CT : Kumarian Press. 2002. p.45 16. Marland, G., T.A. Boden, and R.J. Andres. 2003. Global, Regional, and National CO 2 Emissions. In Trends: A Compendium of Data on Global Change. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tenn., U.S.A. 17. Norberg-Hodge, Helena , Todd Merrifield, and Steven Gorelick. Bringing The Food Economy Home: Local Alternatives to Global Agribusiness. Bloomfield , CT : Kumarian Press. 2002. p.20 18. Pirog, Rich. "Checking the Food Odometer: Comparing Food Miles for Local Versus Conventional Produce Sales in Iowa Institutions." Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. July 2003. 19. Friedmann, Harriet. "Can We Count On Our Food Supply?" The Globe and Mail June 7, 2004 20. Horrigan, Leo, Robert S. Lawrence, and Polly Walker. "How Sustainable Agriculture Can Address the Environmental and Human Health Harms of Industrial Agriculture." Environmental Health Perspectives Vol 110, 5 May 2002.
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Robatoy wrote:

Citation or proof please (you are, in general, wrong about this)

Define "environmental disaster" - you mean it offends your sense of smell or the Beautiful Mother Earth (tm) is being permanently wounded

Thanks for playing.
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Tim Daneliuk wrote:

I just reread your reply and realized you are correct (and my initial response was quite wrong - my apologies). There is *always* less energy out than energy in because perpetual motion is impossible. That is, 100% efficiency is impossible by the fundamental rules of physics. The very nature of converting one kind of mass/energy to another engenders some losses as measured at the output of the system (due to friction, heat, evaporation ...).
IOW, your statement is true but unremarkable - it applies to *everything* - and is thus irrelevant to the debate at hand. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Tim Daneliuk snipped-for-privacy@tundraware.com PGP Key: http://www.tundraware.com/PGP /
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That law doesn't apply to a farm. There are many sources and drains for energy on a farm. It is not a closed system. Thermal air-flows, solar radiation, rain, etc.
Cow/pig farts contain valuable gasses. My guess is that a single cow-fart will light your lamp for a week.
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Robatoy wrote:

If you can demonstrate this, there is a Nobel in Physics in it for you. The net energy out is always <= net energy in - at least as currently understood thermodynamics works. But ... science does change. I'll be the first to congratulate you on your discipline-bending work if you prove otherwise ... (I always wanted to meet a Nobel winner ;)
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Tim Daneliuk wrote:

You have to remember that the sun is a major input into the energy cycle of growing things...
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Duane Bozarth wrote:

Major? might want to revise that a little higher.
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Duane Bozarth wrote:

And your point? The point to which I replied argued that newer forms of farming had a net loss of energy. I agree - all real systems do when comparing net output to net input *which includes the input of the sun*. This is unremarkable as I said and I don't see the relevance of the point to this discussion. The fact remains that todays farms produce more product, with less land, for less cost, for more people than at any point in history. This is not my opinion, it is observable fact. Whether the energy comes from the sun, moon, and stars, or the effuvia of cows is ultimately not the issue. People arguing for the "barely surviving farmer" have no case, and *that* is more-or-less what I was arguing against.
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Tim Daneliuk wrote: ...

Come give it a go then, ...
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