Submitted to: Western Section of Animal Science Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: June 20, 2000
Publication Date: June 20, 2000
Citation: SHORT, R., HEITSCHMIDT, R.K. SOME THOUGHTS ON ANIMAL AGRICULTURE, TECHNOLOGY, ENERGY, HUMANS, ANIMAL SCIENCE, AND HOW IT ALL FITS TOGETHER. WESTERN SECTION OF ANIMAL SCIENCE PROCEEDINGS. 51:9-17. 2000. Interpretive Summary: The world we live in is changing rapidly, and these changes are creating unique problems and opportunities for animal agriculture. These problems must be addressed, and the solutions are best identified by a coordinated, scientific approach. The American Society of Animal Science and The Western Section, ASAS are well suited, based on historical contributions, to be major players in this coordinated, scientific solution to problems so that animal agriculture will continue well into this century as the major supplier of high quality foods and other services to humans.
Technical Abstract: Agriculture is the management or manipulation of the natural (land, water, air, and energy) and biological resources and processes whereby solar energy is captured and processed by plants and animals to produce food, fiber, and other products to provide for the well-being of humans. Cultural energy is that energy applied to do the work to manage and manipulate resources to accomplish agriculture. This work is performed by humans, draft animals, and a variety of engines, motors, tools, and machines, with the energy to accomplish the work being derived from within the system (e.g., food for humans and draft animals or renewable biofuels such as wood and plant oils for engines) or external to the system (e.g., nonrenewable fossil fuels and nuclear energy for motors and engines). Several problems confront modern day agriculture: 1) human populations are increasing exponentially but natural resources to drive agriculture are stable or decreasing. 2) Fossil fuels are the main source of cultural energy. These fuels are finite and have potential negative effects on the system. 3) Agriculture is becoming heavily industrialized which presents unique social and pollution problems. 4) Agriculture is a minor part of developed nation's economic structure and suffers from societal constraints on use of animals and access to technology and natural resources, all of which are vital to the continued success of the ability of agriculture to meet the needs of the earth's human population.