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The logistics behind corn farming [video] (youtube.com)
58 points by CaliforniaKarl on April 7, 2022 | hide | past | favorite | 13 comments

When I lived in SF, about 15 years ago, the US passed some odd sounding laws around subsidizing the production of ethanol.

I figured they wouldn't last long, because they were converting fossil fuels into an environmentally "friendly" fuel, meanwhile requiring more fossil fuels to produce this "friendly" fuel... which is then added to gas tanks around the country.

So you take a fossil fuel & fossil fuel based fertilizers you -> grow corn. You use fossil fuel powered tractors & harvesters. You convert corn -> ethanol, which also requires energy. And then you have ethanol.

You can then burn this ethanol. Or you could just burn all those fossil fuels.

Back then there was also a glimmer of hope around the idea of cellulosic ethanol. Using manmade enzymes we could break down the tough walls around certain plants into ethanol and harvest solar energy directly into liquid fuels via god & man made plants.

Well they are still talking about this, 15 years later, with very much the same tone & words. https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/biofuels/ethanol.php

Ethanol is a scam. It's got something to do with farm votes. Maybe something to do with 2 votes per state for Senators. 15 years later we still perform this ritual nonsense.

This post makes me sound a little bit against green energy. That's not what I'm saying. I'm pointing out that ethanol is not more green. It's less green because it simply wastes energy.

The absolute insanity was, that this drove bread prices through the roof, as us surplus was converted from food-aid output into ethanol and thus started the arab spring and syrian civil war. This law dominoed into ISIS.

> It's less green because it simply wastes energy.

I'm not sure how to interpret this, you always have to input energy to output energy. How wasteful it is depends on how much you had to put in to get the output. Is your claim that they put in more energy than they get out? What do the actual numbers look like for ethanol?

> What do the actual numbers look like for ethanol?

Well that's the issue, disagreement over the numbers. The USDA says it's net positive, other estimates say it's net negative.


You make a lot more ethanol than the original fossil fuel cost. It also stabilizes the market since the corn can be used for animal feed or ethanol. Growing corn captures CO2 as well. Burning ethanol is better than burning fossil fuel.

The future is definitely electric but ethanol is not a bogeyman.

Supports your point with numbers:


tl;dr: Corn-based ethanol is at best as bad a carbon emitter as gasoline, and it's most likely worse.

I like the video, but the title is a bit misleading. There is hardly any talk about logistics in the video.

Reminds me of Clarkson's Farm. Very interesting for those who have never been to a modern farm.

Is this sponsored content, or manufactured authenticity? It's such a happy successful story of the triumphs of industrial agriculture.

For millions of years hominids lived at the whims of nature which often included starvation. Industrial agriculture has basically put the developed world at near post scarcity for food which in fact seems to cause problems of its own. That said, it's still essentially a human triumph.

I don't think it's sponsored. Wendover's entire channel is like this and doesn't necessarily focus on the corn industry or agriculture. It definitely has a logistic bent. A lot of the videos are focused on airline logistics/industry, which is where I think they got their start, and they've been branching out to different industries.

That’s just the video channels niche - they do documentary style short vids.

There is a bit about sponsorship towards the end. Basically some of the footage is from a stock media company.

Seems like a reasonable thing to me

"That was so amazing" said my 3 year old son.

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