Crops Consume More Energy than Livestock
The US agriculture industry used nearly 800 trillion Btu of energy in 2012. According to an analysis from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), crop operations consume much more energy than livestock operations, and energy expenditures for crops account for a higher percentage of farm operating costs.
Agricultural energy consumption includes direct and indirect energy consumption. Direct energy consumption includes the use of diesel, electricity, propane, natural gas and renewable fuels for activities on the farm. Indirect energy consumption includes the use of fuel and feedstock in the manufacturing of agricultural chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides.
The production of fertilizer requires large amounts of natural gas and is extremely energy-intensive. For some crops like oats, corn, wheat, and barley, energy and fertilizer expenditures combined make up more than half of total operating expenses. The proportion of direct to indirect energy use varies by crop. For example, corn, which is also used as an energy input for ethanol production, has relatively low direct fuel expenditures but has the highest percentage of fertilizer expenditures.
The energy consumed in livestock operations is almost solely direct energy consumption and is relatively low compared with crop operations, both as a percentage of total operating expenditures and on a total energy basis. Livestock operations consume direct energy for ventilation systems, refrigeration, lighting, heating, watering, motors and waste handling, whereas crop operations use energy to plant, harvest, irrigate and dry crops.
EIA did not include the energy consumed in the production of livestock feed in its analysis.
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