Do environmental models consider handling?

21 March 2010

Question

Peas are actually really heavy and hard to handle. They're Very dusty and the weight means that they need a specially reinforced grain bin to hold them. Does this get factored into the environmental argument?

Answer

We put this to Claire Domoney from the John Innes Centre and Brian Thomas from Warwick University:

Claire - I can say this isn't something we've come across in the lab, so this is news to me, but yes. It certainly sounds like an industrial problem that needs to be tackled. This is just one of the markets, of course, because the vining and canning peas are harvested at the immature stage so we don't have that problem with those, but the combining peas for animal feed and for marrow fats, these are the edible export markets. I guess that's the problem that's being refered to. But as I said, it's not one I've come across.

Chris - And Brian [Thomas], does this sort of thing get taken into account in models like yours? Obviously, it's easy to keep adding things but have we thought about how we get the crops in and how that may change in a warmer world?

Brian - Not particularly in the work that we've been doing. But I guess there is a lot of work, looking at total carbon footprinting of production systems going on at the moment. This would be one of the factors along with where you produce them and how you transport them around, and the logistics of that. So this whole "total energy balance" of how we produce crops is a live issue at the moment.

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