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Trophically balanced sustainable agriculture


  • Schramski, J.R.
  • Rutz, Z.J.
  • Gattie, D.K.
  • Li, K.


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Schramski, J.R. & Rutz, Z.J. & Gattie, D.K. & Li, K., 2011. "Trophically balanced sustainable agriculture," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 88-96.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:72:y:2011:i:c:p:88-96
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2011.08.017

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Newell, Richard G. & Jaffe, Adam B. & Stavins, Robert N., 2006. "The effects of economic and policy incentives on carbon mitigation technologies," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(5-6), pages 563-578, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Khan, Syed Abdul Rehman & Zaman, Khalid & Zhang, Yu, 2016. "The relationship between energy-resource depletion, climate change, health resources and the environmental Kuznets curve: Evidence from the panel of selected developed countries," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 468-477.
    2. repec:eee:ecanpo:v:54:y:2017:i:c:p:96-104 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Julia Cage, 2014. "Media Competition, Information Provision and Political Participation," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/16juu6v6rg8, Sciences Po.
    4. Zhen, Wei & Qin, Quande & Wei, Yi-Ming, 2017. "Spatio-temporal patterns of energy consumption-related GHG emissions in China's crop production systems," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 274-284.
    5. Gathorne-Hardy, Alfred & Reddy, D. Narasimha & Venkatanarayana, M. & Harriss-White, Barbara, 2016. "System of Rice Intensification provides environmental and economic gains but at the expense of social sustainability — A multidisciplinary analysis in India," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 143(C), pages 159-168.
    6. Kyoung S. Ro & Isabel M. Lima & Guidqopuram B. Reddy & Michael A. Jackson & Bin Gao, 2015. "Removing Gaseous NH 3 Using Biochar as an Adsorbent," Agriculture, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(4), pages 1-12, September.
    7. repec:eee:ecomod:v:267:y:2013:i:c:p:102-114 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Saskia M. van Ruth & Ries de Visser, 2015. "Provenancing Flower Bulbs by Analytical Fingerprinting: Convallaria Majalis," Agriculture, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(1), pages 1-13, January.
    9. repec:rss:jnljfm:v1i1p2 is not listed on IDEAS


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