Exposing the Underpinnings of Industrial Agriculture

Iowa’s agricultural empire is teetering on a shaky structure, according to Fred Kirschenmann, farmer and distinguished fellow for Iowa Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Ames.

A national and international leader in sustainable agriculture and owner of a 2,600-acre organic farm, Kirschenmann’s insights cannot be taken lightly.

He says that the pillars of industrialized farming, cheap energy and a stable climate, are proving not to be so sound. As fuel prices rise, the 1500 miles that conventional produce travels from field to grocery store, coupled with the heavy use of farm machinery and petroleum-based fertilizers, make sustainable agriculture look increasingly appealing.

But Kirschenmann says there’s a reason the United States is heavily reliant on petroleum. For every one part of energy we put into petroleum, 100 parts energy is created, a ratio he says is extremely difficult for other energy sources to achieve. For instance, he says, biofuel produces only 1.5 parts energy for every one part energy invested.

To hear Kirschenmann’s solutions to agriculture’s tough problems, tune into 100.1 KRUU-FM Thursday night, July 14th from 7-8 p.m. Tanner and Moore will help listeners navigate these complex agricultural issues, plus take us on a trip to Iowa State University’s 230-acre horticulture farm.