Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
Journal articles

Energetic assessment of the agricultural production system. A review

Abstract : AbstractEnergy holds a key role in farm systems. Cultivation is based on the conversion of solar energy into biomass of interest. Fossil energy allows mechanized and high-yield agricultural production system, but has a strong impact on climate change, and its supply is compromised in the next decades. Energy flows stand between two worlds: while energy is a strategic component of the economy, it is also a thermodynamic state variable for describing ecosystems. This situation reemphasizes the need for energy flow analysis in farm systems. There is a great variety in the approaches used to compute energy flows at farm scales. Yet, their main characteristics and the ways they handle farm sustainability issues need to be clarified. This review identifies ten kinds of energetic approaches, i.e., (i) conventional energy analysis, (ii) pluri-energy analysis, (iii) agroecological energy analysis, (iv) exergy analysis, (v) cumulative exergy consumption, (vi) extended exergy account, (vii) cumulative exergy extraction from the natural environment, (viii) eco-exergy, (ix) cosmic exergy analysis, and (x) emergy assessment. These approaches are analyzed through key features to discuss their ability to address resources’ efficiency issues and identify promising outcomes for energy assessment of farms. This analysis emphasizes the lack of clear definition of system boundaries in farm-scale studies. In addition, most of the studies mainly focus on socio-economic flows through a sectoral perspective. Yet, internal biomass flows that play a role in maintaining agroecosystem functionality can also be considered according to a circular/systemic perspective. Then, integration of soil organic matter in the energy balance leads to significant changes in energy efficiency evaluation playing a function of biotic energy storage in the farm system. Hence, some recommendations are provided to perform an exhaustive energetic assessment of farm systems as well as future lines of research to be investigated.
Document type :
Journal articles
Complete list of metadata
Contributor : Isabelle Nault <>
Submitted on : Monday, July 26, 2021 - 5:09:20 AM
Last modification on : Friday, September 10, 2021 - 4:29:31 PM


Publication funded by an institution


Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution - NonCommercial 4.0 International License



Jean Hercher-Pasteur, Eléonore Loiseau, Carole Sinfort, Arnaud Hélias. Energetic assessment of the agricultural production system. A review. Agronomy for Sustainable Development, Springer Verlag/EDP Sciences/INRA, 2020, 40, ⟨10.1007/s13593-020-00627-2⟩. ⟨hal-02913099⟩



Record views


Files downloads