Farm Energy Use 1981


80 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-660-52202-0




Reviewed by Dixon Thompson

Dixon Thompson was Professor of Environmental Science at the University of Calgary.


The title says it: this is a booklet of facts and statistics about energy use on Canadian farms. It is based on a personal interview survey of approximately 7,000 farmers. Although the 34-page questionnaire included a section on the time taken for the interview, this is one of the facts not included in the published summary. It would be interesting to calculate the costs to the farmers of filling out the 34 pages and then spending an hour on two with the StatsCan civil servant. There are only 30 pages of text (French and English) with charts and tables, plus 40 pages of tables with additional appendices, which include a copy of the questionnaire. The figures and tables are clear. But the writing is perhaps too concise. Readers are invited to write for information not contained in the booklet, which will be provided for a nominal charge.

The more interesting facts include: two out of three tractors in Canada are diesel; propane-powered trucks traveled an average of twice as far as diesel trucks and three times as far as gasoline-powered; conservation techniques were limited to insulating, purchasing more energy-efficient machinery and converting to alternative fuels. The prairies were more energy intensive at $0.08 per dollar of sales compared to energy expenditures in the rest of the country of $0.05-0.06 per dollar of sales.

StatsCan cannot and should not get into interpretation and policy formulation based upon their statistics. However, it is hoped that somewhere in Ottawa someone is making use of this little booklet. What it needs is a companion volume prepared by the co-sponsors of the survey (Agriculture Canada and Energy Mines and Resources) to analyse, interpret, and develop policies based on these bare statistics. For example, with all those diesel tractors (and trucks and generators), why are we concentrating on converting pickup trucks and taxis to LNG (propane) and CNG (compressed natural gas)? A research and development program (probably more development than research) to augment on convert diesels might pay big dividends.


Statistics Canada, “Farm Energy Use 1981,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 24, 2024,