THE ENERGETICS OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION IN EASTERN EUROPE AND THE USSR

Although agriculture uses only a small share of the world's total energy consumption, it is generally recognized that its needs are crucial, since the existing technologies for increasing production rely so heavily on energy intensive inputs. It therefore becomes imperative to find ways of economizing in the use of the expensive and rapidly depleting supplies of fossil fuel, to develop alternative sources of energy, and to better utilize existing agricultural energy sources as substitutes for expensive energy produced outside agriculture. Most studies of energy use in agriculture have described the developed western countries. Less information is available about agricultural energy use in developing and in the centrally planned countries. In the latter two groups of countries, large increases in food and agricultural production are required. Since these countries now possess relatively abundant supplies of agricultural labour, and modest supplies of capital and industrial energy, it is possible that they may have alternatives to the energy intensive path of agricultural development followed in the most technically advanced western agriculture. Now is a good time to study the energetics of agricultural production in Eastern Europe and the USSR because the agriculture of these countries has been undergoing dynamic change characterized by more intensive use of capital, increased specialization of agricultural enterprises, strengthening of vertical and horizontal integration, and a growing scale of production. Concentration of land, labour, and capital in the big state and cooperative farms under state and social control creates a system of agricultural production which could be quite easily adjusted to changed economic and energy situations. With current technology, agriculture in these countries would require extremely high direct and indirect energy inputs to bring crop yields and animal productivity to the full potential. Perhaps alternatives exist. In times of energy scarcity, energy analysis of agriculture in different countries can give insights into the viability or competitiveness of different agricultural systems. This study covers seven socialist countries which are members of the Council for Mutual Economic Aid (Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and the USSR). To gain a perspective on the energy situation, it is necessary to know the actual amounts and productivity of the energy used in the agriculture of the countries under consideration. Therefore, the purpose of this study is: to describe the energy inputs into agriculture in the seven countries and outline changes in these inputs during the period 1960-1977; to measure agricultural output in energy units; and to compare energy inputs with the energy content of agricultural output in order to estimate the efficiency of energy use. The method used in this study has been adapted from F AO. Energy used in agricultural production was divided into two categories: (1) energy incorporated in agricultural production inputs produced outside agriculture; and (2) energy used directly as fuel and power within agriculture. In the first category are such items as agricultural machinery, tractors, combines, trucks, horse drawn equipment, as well as fertilizer and pesticides. Energy in food was measured on the basis of crops in final form including grains, field beans, potatoes, oilseeds, sugar, vegetables, fruits, and animal products (meat, eggs, and milk). Animal feed was not counted as part of energy output. The energy value of the animal product was multiplied a factor of 7.0 to account for the energy value of the feed. Thus all figures for energy output are converted to crop production equivalents.


Issue Date:
1981
Publication Type:
Conference Paper/ Presentation
PURL Identifier:
http://purl.umn.edu/197115
Page range:
97-103
Total Pages:
7




 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2017-08-28

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