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Supplying the World's Energy Needs with Light and Water
from...MIT Technology Review

Fish Farming in Recirculating Aquaculture Systems
This article is of particular interest to Biosphere Farms ...

The High Price We Pay For Cheap Food
Arthur Potts Dawson discusses the disconnect between healthy food and affordability and explores visions for sustainability

The Biology and Business of Biofuels
A 50 minute video presentation From the University of California San Diego

journal archive



Soil Definitions

Soil and Climate Change

Soil Sustainability


Oil Seed Data Spreadsheet
An Excel spreadsheet for comparing oilseed crop information for making biodiesel. Includes average yield per acre, percentage oil, crop weights, oil and mash weights, seed and oil prices, and information sources.

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Version: 2.0
(October 6, 2006)

What is this?


When we talk about energy, what we usually mean are energy services - what energy can do for us. In a home that might be heating the living space, cooking a meal, or powering the computer. A farm is exactly the same. While the specific tasks might be different - running a tractor, spinning a water pump, heating a greenhouse at night- the key is still that we are interested in the functionality energy allows.

Historically the form the energy held was largely unimportant save for issues of economy: as long energy could be delivered & extracted at low cost, farmers were happy to have it. Then the law of unintended consequences stepped in. The low price of oil resulted in near-uniform dependence by American farmers. For example, modern agricultural practices rely on:

Each step in the production process became intimately tied to the cost of petroleum. Predictably, when oil prices first rose in the fifties, small farmers were among the first to suffer real economic damage. Family farm land was sold to and then consolidated by large corporately held farms. A ratcheting effect was now in place: each spike in oil prices resulted in greater corporate control of agriculture, while periods of low oil prices encouraged greater dependence on the very same petroleum-based products by farmers struggling to compete solely on price.

Without quite meaning to, we have arrived at a world in which our choices at the food market increase our dependence upon and hence interest in controlling the world's petroleum resources. Small farmers find themselves in the awkward position of either trying to guess at future oil prices or simply ignoring the whole issue and hoping for the best.

Obviously other energy sources are required. In later posts I will write about the sources we have considered & link to the best information & arguments for change that I have found, as well as the environmental and health reasons for moving away from a petroleum based agriculture.

In the hope that some of our research will be helpful to others, here is a link to a spreadsheet we compiled of our oilseed crop data. Oilseeds are the basis for producing vegetable oil, the main ingredient in biodiesel, a promising sustainable alternative energy source for American farmers.