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Portal:Sustainable farm energy alternatives
|Highlighted Sustainable farm energy alternatives page|
Sustainable agriculture can be defined as a multi-objective approach to farming that encompasses, but is not limited to:
- Economically profitable practices and long-term business planning solutions
- Primary reliance on Renewable resources W
- Ecologically diverse and environmentally conscious uses of land
- Development of prosperous Farming communities
- Using efficient technologies and practices that minimize energy, water, transportation and non-renewable resource consumption
This portal focuses primarily on providing tools that reduce energy consumption and rely on renewable and clean energy sources, namely targeting:
- Self-sustaining farming practices
- Non-fossil fuel dependent energy sources suitable for farmland
- Third world agriculture community development
- Resources to help farmers develop energy efficient farms
- Small-scale projects for homeowners, volunteer opportunities and student initiatives
Energy consumption in agriculture
Energy is consumed on farms both directly and indirectly (electricity, petroleum products, natural gas, steam, coal, etc.) for various demands in farming operations.
- Direct energy, for example, is used in:
- Crop production
- Livestock and poultry production
- Animal products production
- Other commercial products
- Transportation 
In Canada, farming operation costs were $24.89 billion in 1995 (in 1992 dollars). Direct energy accounted for 8.5% of total operating costs and indirect energy for 26.1% (fertilizers 7.8%, pesticides 4.3%, machinery depreciation charges 11.4% and building depreciation charges 2.6%). Machinery fuel represented 68% of the total cost of direct energy use (Statistics Canada, 21-603). 
In developing areas of the world, energy expenditure is still largely based on human and animal energy, and wood-based fuel. Insufficient access to renewable energy is suspected to hinder the quantity and quality of the food being produced in the third world. In these countries, up to 30% of GDP is based on agriculture.  A report for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations outlines hurdles in agricultural energy use in the developing world :
- "Insufficient modern energy is available for agriculture and this affects food security
- There is a general lack of rural energy development policies that focus on agriculture
- Bridging the energy gap by improving rural energy services” 
Current reliance on non-renewable energy sources puts direct strain on world food production. As energy sources become scarce and prices increase, the farming industry may suffer from higher costs and lowered yield capacity in drought scenarios. Drought conditions in 2001 (seen again in 2009) were considered one of the most expensive natural disasters ever experienced in Canada. Furthermore, between 2004 and 2008 farm fuel prices in Canada saw a 66% hike. Low levels of rainfall force farmers to irrigate crops, meaning increased water and energy consumption.  Pressures to leave behind fossil-fuel dependent sources of energy mean that farmers need resources to turn toward renewable and clean energy.
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Vertical farming - help expand this stub article!
Renewable energy options for farms:
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ATTRA Farm Energy Calculators: Tools for Saving Money on the Farm or continue to the ATTRA Energy Calculator Links webpage
ATTRA publications 300 easy-to-read titles covering organic production, livestock, horticultural crops, business and marketing, farm energy, water and pest management and more
- Village Earth Help reconnect communities to the resources that promote human well-being by enhancing social and political empowerment, community self-reliance and self-determination
- University of Virginia Research into alternative agriculture and alternative energy with Assistant Professor Benjamin Cohen
- UBC farm Learning and research farm located on the University of British Columbia's Campus in Vancouver, Canada
- Integration of Renewable energy on Farms (IReF) The website gives producers the power to assess and plan renewable energy options for their farms
- Energy Farms A food system that depends on non-renewable energy cannot be sustained. Contributors to the Energy Farms Network conduct field experiments to build flexible food systems that reduce dependence on non-renewable energy inputs and produce food and renewable energy. We share our experiences and preliminary findings using digital media.
Books for third world sustainable energy and agriculture development
- The one straw revolution (PDF version) by Masanobu Fukuoka
- Energy and agriculture in the third world by Arjun Makhijani
- Food for all: the need for a new agriculture by John Madeley
- Regenerating agriculture: policies and practice for sustainability and self-reliance by Jules N. Pretty
Books for sustainable agriculture practices
- The anatomy of life and energy in agriculture and Science in agriculture: advanced methods for sustainable farming by Arden B. Andersen
- Smallholders, householders: farm families and the ecology of intensive, sustainable agriculture by Robert McC. Netting
- The Food and Farming Transition: Toward a Post Carbon Food System (downloadable PDF) by the Post Carbon Institute
- The American Journal of Agricultural Economics A forum for creative and scholarly work on the economics of agriculture and food, natural resources and the environment, and rural and community development throughout the world
- Agriculture, ecosystems & environment An international journal for scientific research on the interaction between agroecosystems and the environment
- NY Times Business Daily online newspaper articles under Energy & Environment
- Journal of Sustainable Agriculture is devoted to the rapidly emerging fields of agroecology and sustainable agriculture. The journal focuses on the changes that need to occur in the design and management of our food systems in order to balance natural resource use and environmental protection with the needs of production, economic viability, and social well-being.
- Top 10 research journals: Sustainable agriculture which identifies the best sources that address sustainable agriculture, research and information sources, contacts and experts, research funding sources, educational and career opportunities, and upcoming events
Educational resources, videos, and tools
- The Urban Conversion Visits an Urban Farm Rodman is a fiscally conservative businessman, who is on a socially responsible quest to reduce his own current carbon footprint. In doing so, he inserts himself into "extreme green" situations to learn the ins and outs of an off-the-grid sustainable urban homestead lifestyle.
- Converting Your Planter for No-Till Operation: Introduction and Leveling by Iowa Learning Farm. Please follow the various 'Converting Your Planter for No-Till Operation' feeds, 11 videos in all.
- Aquaponics Made Easy DVD introduction
- Peak Moment 62: Take a whirlwind tour of the Brookside Energy Farm with Jason Bradford and Christoffer Hansen at planting time. Along with perennials, annuals, a food forest, and dryland crops (grains), they're growing Jerusalem artichoke and dale sorghum to produce both food and energy (ethanol). Watch Chris cut sod with a Swiss glaser hoe -- a 1/6 horsepower guy!
Resources and tools
- FarmEnergy.org Clean energy guide outlined by technology
- Ministry of agriculture: food and rural affairs Energy efficiency, conservation and management along with numerous helpful links
- IReF Tools Access to various tools related to renewable energy in agriculture
- China Energy-Water-Agriculture Nexus A five part blog on the relationship and interplay between energy, water and agriculture in China
- Engage360 For those adopting an energy-saving lifestyle - Introduction energy, agriculture and food processing
- Ministry of agriculture: food and rural affairs Considerations and opportunities for building a farm-based anaerobic digester system in Ontario
- Renewable Energy Association Opportunities in the UK for farmers and landowners to use land for renewable energy projects or for growing energy crops or renewable fuels
- IReF funding programs/incentives Agriculture, energy and transport subsidies and funding opportunities in Canada
- FarmStart The objective of FarmStart is to support and encourage a new generation of farmers to develop locally based, ecologically sound and economically viable agricultural enterprises.
- Farm Centre This blog aims to extend renewable energy and energy conservation information, ideas, resources, and networks to Canadian Farmers. We wish to facilitate successful energy business decisions.
- GoodWork Canada Green jobs, contracts and internships in Canada in partnership with the Canadian Environmental Network
- Sustainable Energy Jobs Green jobs for a sustainable future
- WorkCabin Canada Discover meaningful jobs from great Canadian employers at Canada's Environmental Job Site
- NCAT Employment Opportunities and Application Forms
- WWOOF Canada Volunteer opportunities on sustainable, organic farms
- Canadian Environmental Network Opening for a food & energy self-reliance student volunteer in Elk, British Columbia
Additional work to be done
The issues mentioned about agriculture and energy in this portal are briefly stated and no where near exhaustive. It is the writer's wish that this section be largely expanded and to include an in-depth study of energy consumption on farms and to present a true depiction of third world agricultural issues. Please follow the link below and help contribute!
- Maas, C. (2010). Ontario's water-energy nexus: will we find ourselves in hot water--or tap into opportunity? POLIS Project on Ecological Governance.