Trophically balanced sustainable agriculture
Considering an economy without fossil fuels, literally built from the ground, then up, we developed several interactive research models of biointensive farms that use no fossil fuels. Quantifying and summarizing total human labor–energy input and total caloric energy output, we demonstrate that a successfully designed farm can produce a positive energy-return-on-investment (EROI) leaving excess caloric energy available for building economic-community structures (e.g., schools and hospitals). Farm products with negative EROI must be coupled with other products with positive EROI to assure nutritionally balanced diets are maintained while still achieving an overall positive EROI for the total agroecological operation. We show that similar to the ecosystem, energy budgets are tight which makes for difficult decisions on diet, farm plot diversity, and energy profitability for future growth. Considering the totality of this low energy agro-system based economy, we simplify many operational variables into a unique graphical solution space, which reveals both reasonable expectations of agroecological EROI performance, and extreme asymptotes, beyond which indicate regions of system failure.
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