Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute


Date of this Version


Document Type



Mantoam, E. J., M. M. Mekonnen, and T. L. Romanelli. 2018. Energy, water and material footprints of agricultural machinery industry. Agricultural Engineering International: CIGR Journal, 20(3): 132–140.


December, 2018 Energy, water and material footprints of agricultural machinery industry Vol. 20, No. 3


The intensification of agricultural production systems demands power, supplied by agricultural machinery, besides more agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides and seeds. Agricultural mechanization provides increase in the global production of food, fiber and bioenergy; and it brought economic benefits to producers, but causing larger energy consumption. Energy embodiment in agricultural machinery has been done in earlier studies, but data usually are from car industry. This study aimed to determine the energy demand and water footprint in a plant that assembles five types of agricultural machinery from a multinational manufacturer located in Piracicaba municipality in Sao Paulo state, Brazil. That plant assembled two types of sugarcane harvester, coffee harvesters, sprayers and planters. Inputs taken into account were classified as direct inputs (electricity, liquefied petroleum gas - LPG, water etc.) and depreciated inputs (infrastructure, tools etc.), regarding how they are consumed over time. Data about the physical demand were determined, providing the material flows, which were used to estimate the energy and water flows by multiplying them by their respective energy embodiment and water footprint indices. Electricity accounted for the highest share (88.9%) in the total energy demand. From depreciated inputs, buildings accounted for almost the full embodied energy, but this category had a minute participation on the total energy (<2.5%). The industrial assembling required on average 13.49 GJ of energy and 12.29 m3 of water per machine assembled. Labor’s embodied energy was very small, thus can simply be neglected from the energy analysis. The indirect water footprint related to depreciated inputs was very minor and can be neglected without affecting the final result. The direct water demand was 33 from 5.60 to 15.70 m per machine compared to the average indirect water footprint of 1.2 m. In terms of per unit mass of assembled machine, the embodied energy demand varied from 1.22 to 2.36 MJ kg-1 and the water footprint varied from 1.17 to -1 2.11Lkg .