U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Date of this Version

June 2006


Published in Crop Science.


As the title of this book suggests, agriculture resides on both sides of the nation’s energy balance equation. Throughout history, agriculture has used and produced energy. Early agriculture relied on human and animal traction; much of the produce was consumed to power the enterprise. From the end of World War II through the present, a unique period in agricultural production has existed. Energy used on farms has come from sources beyond the farm gate—oil wells in the Middle East and Alaska’s North Slope, coal mines in Wyoming, and natural gas fields in Gulf States and the Gulf of Mexico. As world energy reserves diminish and environmental concerns about global warming increase with each calorie of fossil fuel consumed, agriculture is again being challenged to become a producer of renewable domestic energy to offset supply disruption and stabilize fuel prices—both risks strongly influenced by international politics and turmoil.