1 Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Technical University of Denmark2 Center for BioProcess Engineering, Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Technical University of Denmark
Modern food production depends on limited natural resources for providing energy and fertilisers. We assess the fossil fuel dependency for the Danish food production system by means of Food Energy Returned on fossil Energy Invested (Food-EROI) and by the use of energy intensive nutrients from imported livestock feed and commercial fertilisers. The analysis shows that the system requires 221 PJ of fossil energy per year and that for each joule of fossil energy invested in farming, processing and transportation, 0.25 J of food energy is produced; 0.28 when crediting for produced bioenergy. Furthermore, nutrients in commercial fertiliser and imported feed account for 84%, 90% and 90% of total supply of N, P and K, respectively. We conclude that the system is unsustainable because it is embedded in a highly fossil fuel dependent system based on a non-circular flow of nutrients. As energy and thus nutrient constraints may develop in the coming decades, the current system may need to adapt by reducing use of fossil energy at the farm and for transportation of food and feed. An operational strategy may be to relocalise the supply of energy, nutrients, feed and food.