Authors:  
  • Eva Fraňková (Masaryk University, Brno)
  • Claudio Cattaneo (Institut d’Estudis Regionals i Metropolitans de Barcelona)

Year: 2017

This paper contributes to the vivid academic debate on potentially more sustainable models of food production, focusing especially on energy issues. Applying social metabolism and energy flow analysis, it compares the functioning of a current small-scale organic family farm in the village of Holubí Zhoř, Czech Republic, with the historical performance of the village agroecosystem in c.1840. Historical data from the Franciscan stable cadastre and current data from direct field research are employed to quantify main productive assets (land, livestock, machinery and labour) and related energy flows into energy balance indicators. Their comparison shows that the present farm lies halfway between modern mechanized and traditional organic agriculture and thus constitutes an indicative case of the limits and potentialities of present-day more sustainable farm systems. Methodologically, the study is innovative by applying the social metabolism approach on the local (village and farm) level in the context of the global North, and by advancing the use of Energy Return On Investment (EROI) indicators for agroecosystems.

Fraňková , E., & Cattaneo, C. (2017). Organic farming in the past and today: sociometabolic perspective on a Central European case study. Regional Environmental Change, On line: 1 February 2017, 1-13. doi: 10.1007/s10113-016-1099-8