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7542Re: [rootsradicals] Re: Driven to Despair a cool PBS Special

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  • David Chase
    Nov 3, 2008
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      On 2008-11-03, at 4:25 PM, Emily Wigley wrote:
      > This is such an interesting thread!
      >
      > My horses can be thought of as terribly inefficient! :-) Five of
      > the equines in my stable work for their keep as school horses, so I
      > usually think of them as business expenses/business partners, but
      > thinking about them as vehicles is very interesting. They weigh
      > between 750 and 1400 lbs., and they can carry approximately 20% of
      > their own weight.
      >
      > Their fuel efficiency and waste production is really strange: 1000#
      > horse requires 20# roughage (hay or good pasture)/day, and results in
      > 50# of waste (manure)/day. But the waste can be repurposed as we all
      > know, so maybe it's not a bad equation. And the horse could feasibly
      > work the land that grows its own food (hay field) and can be used for
      > several hours/day for transportation.
      >
      If you can find a copy at your local library, there is a book,
      Food, Energy and Society, by Pimentel and Pimentel, and they
      talk about not just how much energy it takes to produce food,
      but how it varies with production methods. In particular,
      the energy needed to produce a bushel of corn varies quite a
      bit depending upon how you grow it; in the US, we get quite
      a few bushels per acre of land, but not so many if you measure
      it by the energy required.

      If your livestock is fed corn grown in the US energy-intensive
      way, you might have a problem (from an efficiency point of view),
      or you might not. Horses are vegetarians, so even if they eat
      energy-expensive US corn, they're still only eating corn. We
      humans tend to eat all sort of things (like meat) that is much more
      energy intensive than corn. And, of course, your horses get some
      of their energy from grass, and that's almost unbeatable from
      a system-efficiency point of view.

      Problem is, if everyone tried to keep horses, it might not fit,
      and we would need transportation systems to bring the hay to the
      horses and the horse byproducts away from the horses.

      David
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