(File photo courtesy © Can Stock Photo Inc. / Spectral)

Gains outpace steep rise in agricultural energy use

The energy needs of Canadian farms have grown substantially over the past three decades, but that energy is being put to increasingly efficient use.

According to a recent National Energy Board analysis of federal statistics, Canadian agricultural energy demand increased by about 50 per cent between 1990 and 2016, but the amount of energy consumed per inflation-adjusted dollar of agricultural output fell 17 per cent.

Energy and crop engineer Steve Clarke, who joined the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in 1983, says farms in Ontario are embracing new technologies including the use of L-E-D lighting in barns to dramatically reduce energy costs.

He says average farms are larger and being operated with fewer people, a situation that is also forcing the adoption of more remote monitoring and automated processes on farms.