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Can Agriculture Balance Its Energy Consumption and Continue to Produce Food? A Framework for Assessing Energy Neutrality Applied to French Agriculture

Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire des Énergies de Demain (LIED), Université Paris Diderot, 75013 Paris, France
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Sustainability 2018, 10(12), 4624; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10124624
Received: 30 September 2018 / Revised: 15 November 2018 / Accepted: 4 December 2018 / Published: 6 December 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Livestock Production and Industrial Ecology)
In the context of energy transition, agriculture is facing a double challenge, which is to reduce its fossil fuel dependency and provide—in addition to food—bioenergy to society for substitution to fossil fuels. The feasibility of this challenge depends on whether agriculture can achieve energy neutrality, meaning to balance its consumption of external energy by energy recovery from internal sources. Livestock feed is a major determinant in this balance. We use France as a demonstration case of the changing role of feed in the long-term agricultural energy metabolism and the challenge of reaching energy neutrality. Results show that current agriculture is structurally energy deficient to such an extent that its functional energy requirements almost equal its final produce. The energy recovery potential from crop residues and manure could at best cover the primary biomass equivalent of the external energy inputs to agriculture. Only a suppression of feed from cropland combined with very high energy recovery from agricultural residues could allow achieving energy neutrality and making agriculture a net energy source to society. View Full-Text
Keywords: sustainability; agriculture; energy balance; energy neutrality; crop residues; manure; feed sustainability; agriculture; energy balance; energy neutrality; crop residues; manure; feed
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Harchaoui, S.; Chatzimpiros, P. Can Agriculture Balance Its Energy Consumption and Continue to Produce Food? A Framework for Assessing Energy Neutrality Applied to French Agriculture. Sustainability 2018, 10, 4624.

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