Escalating Energy Costs Justify More Expensive Environmental Protection Options

CANADA - A University of Arkansas professor suggests escalating energy costs are making it easier to justify some of the more expensive options for protecting the environment, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 21 June 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

Dr. Andrew Sharpley, with the University of Arkansas's Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences, is scheduled to address Manure Management 2007 next week in Winnipeg.

He notes, as a result of escalating land costs, agriculture is becoming increasingly concentrated so the challenge is to economically balance the nutrients that come into a system, whether as feed or other inputs, with the nutrients leaving the system in the form of products.

Dr. Andrew Sharpley-University of Arkansas

Irrespective of the cost I think most of the farmers, 99.9 percent of them are good stewards and, obviously, they're there to make a living and it's a way of life but, everyone that we speak to, if they feel like they're causing a problem, they would want to do something about it.

Now the rubber hits the road if it's so expensive it's going to stop them from doing what they're doing or put them out of business.

That's a different situation but, if they knew they were causing a problem, they would do what was within their means so to speak to correct that.

That's irrespective of the higher energy prices but I think one of the things we're seeing is that the value of these nutrients in some of the systems is much greater because the cost of energy.

We're looking at making energy out of manure, we're looking at different products that may be a revenue stream for farmers that was never there before so those are some of the opportunities I think.

We're not there but I think we're learning a lot and perhaps learning to adapt fairly quickly.

Dr. Sharpley says the higher energy prices have turned us to look to options such as biofuels or growing alternate crops.

He notes, in several parts of the U.S., there's talk of burring manure as an energy source and in some parts of the country that is already happening.

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