Agriculture is sustainable and wealth creating in direct proportion to the percentage of its total energy usage that comes from solar energy as sunlight.
Modern agriculture – what we consider as conventional today – evolved in conjunction with cheap energy prices and is very inefficient in solar energy usage. So long as fossil fuel energy was cheap, there was little incentive to devise methods of production that were solar-energy efficient, so fossil-fuel energy usage by agriculture grew exponentially. Energy consumption in production for tillage, irrigation, fertilizers, pesticides and harvesting rose greatly as did energy used in transportation of farm products and farm supplies. All this has happened in my lifetime.
If agriculture is to be productive, regenerative, and profitable in the long term, it will be necessary to reduce the total amount of energy used by agriculture and to replace much of the fossil energy usage with biological energy generated from solar energy.
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