The interdependency of energy and agriculture is undeniable and represents a critical nexus for Hoosiers. The agricultural value chain includes energy inputs at every segment and energy is used at every stage: from production to processing to post-harvest and storage to distribution and retail.
Direct and indirect energy inputs are equally necessary for agricultural value chains but they occur at different steps. Farms and processing plants apply direct energy at the operational level. It comprises, for instance, product supply and transport energy, with fuel or biofuel being used to bring the product to the market. Additional energy consumed for production, processing, and commercialization of products is categorized as direct energy input, as is energy for irrigation, land preparation, and harvesting. Indirect energy is applied through the use of machinery, pesticides, and fertilizers. Energy-intensive fertilizers, for example, have the potential to save indirect energy through advanced engineering and computer-aided technologies. Improving accuracy and timing of applications for example, with biosensors for soil fertility monitoring and trace gas detection, can significantly reduce fertilizer usage and thus decrease energy inputs.
One thing is certain, the agriculture-energy nexus represents a significant portion of the total GDP for Indiana. Indiana agriculture contributes roughly $31.2B to the Hoosier GDP annually, with approximately 107,500 Hoosier jobs supported by agricultural production, processing, and related activities. With more than 14.7 million acres of farmland, Indiana is a leading producer of corn, soybeans, hogs, poultry, popcorn, and tomato products.
With innovations in research and technology, Indiana is helping to fuel a revolution in precision agriculture that is transforming the Corn Belt to a new Tech Belt that offers data and research-driven solutions aimed at closing the global food gap. Energy plays a central part in Indiana’s success in this area. Learn more about AgriEnergy by clicking on the links above.