Says small farms more efficient


March 25 was the 100th anniversary of Norman Borlaug's birth, father of the "Green Revolution." Many people consider him a great man. He even won the Nobel Prize. However, the "Green Revolution" wasn't possible without cheap oil energy. Industrial agriculture uses 7-10 kilocalories of fossil fuel energy to produce 1 kilocalorie of food energy. On my farm, I use 1 kilocalorie of human and fossil fuel energy (10-12 gallons per year) to produce 3.6 kilocalories of food energy. This means I am 25-35 times more efficient. In water usage, I am eight times more efficient than industrial agriculture. In land use I am 10 times more efficient in production of kilocalories of food energy. (These are all hard numbers, by the way.) So, 25 times more efficient in energy use, times eight times more efficient in water use, times 10 times more efficient in land use equals 2,000 times more efficient overall. In other words, my small-scale farming practices are 2,000 times more efficient than my industrial ag neighbors right across the road.

Walter Haugen


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