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Historical transition of a farming system towards industrialization: A Danish agricultural case study comparing sustainability in the 1840s and 2019

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A Danish pre‐industrial farming system is reconstructed and compared to its modern industrialized farming system equivalent to evaluate agricultural performance in a sustainability perspective. The investigated Danish farm system and its contributing elements have undergone significant transformations. The intensity of contemporary agriculture shows that high productivity levels have been achieved by increasing the input of energy using modern machinery. At the same time, the energy efficiency (calculations based on energetic indicators) diminishes over time as the degree of dependence on fossil fuels increases. The results from this study show significant changes in the farming system, specifically inputs from agricultural land use, livestock, and energy systems. From being highly circular, the system changed to being a clear linear farming system with highly increased productivity but less efficient at the same time, questioning the relationship between productivity and efficiency and resource utilization in modern farming systems. Through utilizing an agroecological historical approach by comparing system performance over time, the results offer opportunities to explore how agricultural farming systems evolve over time and help to describe the complexity of the system level in a sustainability perspective.

Antal sider15
StatusUdgivet - nov. 2021

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