Sustainability on the Farm

Learn about sustainability indicators used to gauge and evaluate a farm’s progress toward a more sustainable future.

Contour farming with buffer strips. These conservation practices reduce erosion and water pollution.. Photo: NRCS/USDA; Wikimedia Commons.

Table of Contents

Sustainability on the

Diverse Plant Mixtures for Sustainable Biofuels

Mixtures offer advantages over monocultures. Michael Bomford photo.

Learn the benefits of planting diverse prairie grass mixtures for biofuel feedstocks.

Table of Contents

Monocultures versus polycultures

The vast majority of farm-based bioenergy production currently relies on monocultures: pure stands of a single plant species such as corn or soybeans. Yet researchers have long known that plant mixtures or polycultures offer numerous advantages, including resistance to plant diseases, insect pests, weeds …

Introduction to Energy Efficient Irrigation

Irrigation is Nevada

Irrigation is Nevada. Photo: US EPA and National Archive and Record Administration; Wikimedia Commons.

Learn how efficient irrigation technologies and practices reduce water and power costs.

Table Of Contents

Energy Efficient Irrigation

Overhead or sprinkler irrigation is common in vegetable production; it can deliver a lot of water quickly to an entire field. Photo: Vern Grubinger, University of Vermont Extension

Play button  Find these topics and many other related Farm Energy media resources

Key Components of the Biofuels Sustainability Debate

Are biofuels truly sustainable? Explore biofuel sustainability in regards to the environment, economy, energy, and farming livelihood.

Soybean biodiesel fuel.  Photo: Leandro Maranghetti Lourenço, Brazil; Wikimedia Commons.

Table of Contents

Major Questions about the Sustainability of Biofuels


Conflicting messages:

Biofuels and Greenhouse Gas Reductions

Can we reduce greenhouse gases with biofuels? Explore biofuels, the carbon cycle and potential impacts.

Palm oil plantation, in Indonesia. Photo: Achmad Rabin Taim; Wikimedia Commons.

Table of Contents

Biofuels and the Carbon Cycle

From the standpoint of human-released carbon dioxide, other greenhouse gas emissions, and contributions to climate change biofuels have one large advantage over gasoline, diesel and other fossil fuels: The feedstocks for biofuels …

Genetically Modified Organisms for Bioenergy Systems

Cotton harvest. Photo: Kimberly Vardeman; Wikimedia Commons.

Learn how GMO’s are used in bioenergy systems, and why they are controversial in the sustainability debate.

Table of Contents

Current GMO Research

Genetic engineering is being used and tested in virtually every aspect of bioenergy production, including crops, bacteria, yeasts, and catalysts. For example, researchers are trying to genetically engineer plants that grow faster, have high sugar or starch content, contain more cellulose …

Introduction to Sustainable Farm Energy Use, Conservation and Generation

Most farm operations currently depend on fossil fuel use. Photo: Jeff Piper.

Learn many strategies for improving energy efficiency, and the cheapest and easiest way to reduce energy costs on the farm.

Table of Contents

The Growing Interest in Energy Conservation and Generation on the Farm

In the last few years, interest in alternative energy and energy conservation has skyrocketed due to unstable …

Introduction to Energy Efficiency and Conservation on the Farm

Energy efficiency and conservation are integral to sustainable agriculture. Efficiency means increasing the work or yield per unit of energy; conservation means reducing total energy usage

Fuel and electricity use on farms is just as important to sustainability and energy savings, as use of soil and water. Energy efficiency is an integral part of sustainable agriculture. While U.S. farms have almost doubled their average energy efficiency over the past 25 years, most farms still have good opportunities to save energy …

Sustainability Standards for Farm Energy


Family standing next to a solar installation on their shed. How can biofuel be certified sustainable? Examine guidelines, criteria, and measurable indicators.

How can biofuel be certified sustainable? Examine guidelines, criteria, and measurable indicators.

Windmills on a farm. Photo: Farm Energy Community of Practice.

Table of Contents