In Ortega, E. & Ulgiati, S. (editors): Proceedings of IV Biennial International Workshop “Advances in
Energy Studies”. Unicamp, Campinas, SP, Brazil. June 16-19, 2004. Pages 271-283
EMERGY ANALYSIS AND BOOKKEEPING ACCOUNTING OF
CONVENTIONAL AND ORGANIC COFFEE PRODUCTION IN BRAZIL
Oscar Sarcinelli1; Enrique Ortega2
Laboratory of Ecological Engineering, Food Engineering School.
Unicamp. P.O. Box 6121, CEP 13083-970, Campinas, SP, Brazil.
Emergy, economic and social analyses were conducted in two different farms located in the northeast of
Sao Paulo State, Brazil, that used different systems of coffee production. The farming systems studied
work according to two opposing agricultural models: organic and conventional. The comparison between
both systems showed that the organic system is capable of improving the economic results in small
properties. These improvements were possible because the organic system made a large use of the free
natural resources in the agro ecosystem. The use of these natural resources enable farmers to obtain lower
costs with material inputs and have better number for permanent employment per area and also promote
the recovery of the environment. The emergy analysis was able to discover that organic farm uses more
natural resources and this fact allowed more economic benefits.
Key words: Coffee production, Emergy, Ecological Economy.
The recent decline of prices of coffee in the international market, coupled with the lack
of public policies for planning and management of coffee production, as well as the
continuous increase of chemical inputs price in agriculture are factors that contribute to
profitability reduction in coffee farming. As consequence, many small coffee producers
have been forced to abandon farming. In recent years, some measures to increase
productivity as mechanization, irrigation, and high density planting have been
implemented in coffee farming, but all of them give support of the more capitalized
coffee producers. On the other hand, small coffee producers generally have limited
access to these technologies as well as to financial resources due to their small
The organic production system is an alternative for the small producers because of the
ability of this agricultural technology of using free natural inputs instead of purchased
chemicals. In order to evidence this fact, in this study it is combined the traditional
bookkeeping accounting with emergy analysis.
2. MATERIAL AND METHODS
Field studies were conducted in two farms that use different systems of coffee
production (organic and conventional). The conventional system is characterized by the
use of chemical pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers and petroleum fuel. The organic
system is intensive in the use of natural inputs, organic materials and permanent
These field studies were conducted to evaluate:
a) Improvement the income of small producers;
b) Employment generation;
c) Ecological efficiency using emergy analysis;
1 Ecological Economics Student - IE/UNICAMP. firstname.lastname@example.org;
2 Ecological Engineering Laboratory Coordinator – FEA/UNICAMP. email@example.com;
d) “Net Emergy” and Economic profitability after accounting the environmental
The first farm, considered to be of medium size, is called Barrinha farm and is located
in the municipal district of Santo Antonio do Jardim in the state of Sao Paulo. It
occupies a total area of 190 hectares, and it has 150 hectares planted with conventional
The second farm, considered to be of small size, is called Terra Verde and is located in
the city of Albertina in the state of Minas Gerais. It occupies a total area of 56 hectares,
with 25 hectares of organic coffee cultivars and the remaining area is used with several
cultures for internal consumption and milk production.
For the analysis of employment it was registered the number of permanent and
temporary employees and their respective economic income. These values were divided
by farm area.
The field research made it possible to obtain the production cost data for the 2003/2004-
year crop as well as the emergy values. The sale price for the coffee was the medium
value in the State of Sao Paulo (AGRIANUAL, 2004) .
The Gain and Loss Statement (GLS) was used to obtain total revenue, production costs
and expenses and overall profitability of the systems.
It was applied the emergy accounting methodology (ODUM, 1996) , as well as a
graphical emergy indicators tool proposed recently by Giannetti et al (2005) .
Finally, this study compares an economic accounting table (Gain and Loss Statement)
with its respective emergy table (Aggregated Emergy Flows) with appropriated
sequence. This work gives continuity to the first effort accomplished recently in this
field by ORTEGA et al (2004)  where emergy analysis was integrated with
bookkeeping on a buffalo farm in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.
Emergy diagrams allow a better understanding of the farms. The natural inputs are
shown on the left; at the top right side appear the materials and external services. At the
right are the outputs and their exchange for money. At the bottom is placed the degraded
The conventional farm (Figure 1a) shows a small internal interactions and great
dependence on external resources. The organic farm, Figure 1b, has larger interaction
among the internal stocks. This fact contributes to a self-sufficiency and efficiency.
1a: Conventional coffee production emergy diagram, Barrinha farm
1b: Organic coffee production emergy diagram, ranch Terra Verde
Figure 1: Emergy diagrams of energy flows in both studied systems
www.unicamp.br/fea/ortega/. (Accessed in 15/03/2004)
Table 1. Coffee inputs: quantities and costs; for the year-crop 2003/2004
Unit/ha.year US$/ha.year Unit/ha.year US$/ha.year
Wood and its
* Depreciation of wood, steel and cement: 20 years. For iron we used 10 years
** Electricity and telephone expenses.
*** Government taxes: ICMS (18%), ITR (1. 4%), FUNRURAL (2%) e Revenue (27.
**** Interest rate 9.5% year on production costs, administrative expenses, sales and
Table 2. Gain and Loss Statement (total sales, production costs, taxes, capital costs) per
hectare in two coffee production systems, US$/ha/year
US$ 64.00 per 60 kg
US$ 100.00 per 60 kg*
Total sales proceeds (S) 1 884.0
Total sales proceeds (S) 1 800.0
(-) Sales taxes (18%) 339.1
(-) Sales taxes (18%) 324.0
(-) Production costs 860.6
(-) Production costs 511.0
(-) Operational expenses 107.8
(-) Operational expenses 106.7
(-) Capital costs 92.0
(-) Capital costs 58.7
(-) Taxes (Funrural/ITR) 64.0
(-) Taxes (Funrural/ITR) 59.1
(-) Income taxes 102.2
(-) Income taxes 203.6
Total production expenses(E) 1 565.7 Total production expenses (E) 1 263.1
Net profit (S-E) 318.3
Net profit (S-E) 536.9
Profitability (S-E/S) 16.9% Profitability (S-E/S) 29.8%
Source: AGRIANUAL 2004. “Benefited coffee prices received by the producers in Sao
Paulo, Brazil”. p.208 * The value of the organic coffee in the ranch Terra Verde was
US$ 100.00 per 60 kg of green coffee, (using an exchange rate of R$ 2.90 / US$ 1.00).
The values of the aggregated emergy flows are shown in Table 3. The complete Emergy
Balance Tables are presented in appendixes 2a and 2b.
Table 3. Emergy flows for studied coffee production cases
Aggregated emergy flows Abbreviation Conventional
Renewable + Nonrenewable
Sources: Field research data (05/03/2004).
In Table 4 the emergy values presented in appendixes 2a and 2b are used to obtain
Table 4. Emergy Indicators of ecological sustainability collected in analyzed coffee
Emergy Investment Rate
Environment Load Rate
% System Renovability
Emergy Yield Rate
Sources: Ecological Engineering Laboratory spreadsheets – FEA/UNICAMP,
4.1 Social and Economic aspects
The results of Table 1 show that organic production uses more permanent labor. In the
conventional system the rate of employment is 1 worker for 24 hectares, in the organic
system it is 1 permanent worker for 14 hectares. If the same analysis is made in terms of
income, the permanent work cost considering employment rights and governmental
taxes in conventional system is US$ 49.4 per hectare/year while the organic system is
US$ 83.8 per hectare/year. In the conventional coffee production the most intensive
labor activities (crop picking and fertilization) are realized with use of machineries or
accomplished by external temporary hand labor. In this last case the majority of workers
are contracted for short periods of time generating social problems.
Table 2 shows that the organic coffee growing uses a lower quantity of chemical inputs
enabling more protection against the variation in coffee prices. The main cost in organic
coffee farming is related with labor rights, technical attendance, financing costs and
taxes. It is observed that labor payments represent an additional expense to the organic
system of US$ 34.4 per hectare/year. On the other hand, the conventional system
displayed an additional cost related to the purchase of chemical defensives and
fertilizers, whose costs are US$ 125.6 and US$ 208.2 per hectare/year.
In the coffee market there is, indeed, a great price variation. The price is affected by
climatic factors which affect the crop forecast and subsequently its price. Investors use
this information to speculate in the market producing daily price oscillations. This
volatility in price highlights the importance of self-sufficiency in small coffee farms. In
the case of big farms, the producers are able to deal with price oscillation through
negotiations to obtain special financing conditions. The coffee market has shown in
recent years a great variation in the price of the product. Between 1998 and 2002 the
coffee price was, on average, US$ 66.7 per bag. A bag has 60 kg of coffee beans. In
1999 the highest price registered was US$ 89.5 per bag. However, in 2001 the lowest
price registered was US$ 39.7 per bag (AGRIANUAL, 2003) . Therefore it is
impossible for the farmer to protect himself because climatic factors are uncontrollable.
Then the strategy of rural administration should focus on making reductions in their
direct costs of production.
The external inputs dependence of conventional farm forces the acquisition of capital to
finance their purchase, establishing dependence between producers and banks. This
financial expense increases the cost of production considerably (ASSIS et al, 2002) .
In organic farming, the biodiversity of the native forest enables the control of pests and
preservation of water springs and soil. Coffee grows with green manure and wood, citric
fruits, banana, papaya, latex. All this allows better economic return.
4.2 Emergy Indicators
The analysis of table 3 demonstrates that the conventional system needs approximately
nine times more purchased resources and five times more nonrenewable natural
resources than the organic system. The organic system uses sixteen times more
renewable natural resources than the conventional.
EYR: This indicator analyzes the total contribution of nature to the production process.
It is calculated through the division of total emergy used (Y) by the total of material
resources (F). Values closer to 1 represent a minimal contribution by nature while the
larger values represent more support of to human economy.
• Conventional: 1,33
• Organic: 10,7
%R: This is an indicator of ecological sustainability that shows the renewable natural
resources as a percentage of total resources used in the production system. Systems with
a larger percentage obtain larger amounts of renewable energy, smaller direct costs of
production and larger competitiveness in the market.
• Conventional: 21,1%
• Organic: 90,4%
EIR: This is an indicator that measures the competitiveness of the system. It is the ratio
between purchased inputs divided by natural resources used in the production system.
Values close to zero indicate that the environment has a high contribution to production;
in this case the lower monetary costs of ecological production increases its
• Conventional: 2,91
• Organic: 0,10
ELR: This indicator represents the pressure exercised by the productive system on the
ecosystem where it is located. It is calculated through the division of the total
nonrenewable natural resources by the total renewable natural resources. Values close to
zero indicate smaller environmental load of the activity and larger ecological
sustainability of the production process over time.
• Conventional: 3,75
• Organic: 0,11
Figure 2. Ternary Diagrams of systems analyzed results
The ternary graphic used in this study enable us to differentiable the characteristics of
the systems. The organic system is the renewable area and the conventional system in
the area that depends of purchased inputs.
A methodology that combines bookkeeping with emergy analysis to obtain the “net
Emergy” produced by the system is shown in Table 5.
Table 5. Gain and Loss Statement observed with emergy values
Total nonrenewable resources
Source: Emergy Gain and Loss Statement (GLS) of ranch Terra Verde and Barrinha
farm. Ecological Engineering Laboratory – FEA/UNICAMP, 05/03/2004.
This table uses the structure of Gain and Loss Statement (GLS) with the aggregated
emergy flows. We also include externalities (unemployment, water springs pollution,
river pollution) in this analysis.
Table 5 shows that the “net Emergy” is directly related with “profit”. The enterprise
benefit corresponds to the renewable natural resources that can be driven to farm
production with almost no cost. The organic system is more intensive in the use of free
natural resources and it obtains a much larger “net Emergy”. In the case of small coffee
growing farms this may contribute to preserve their economic profitability.
This paper demonstrated that, in the two studied farms, better economic results could be
achieved when the small coffee producers made larger use of their renewable natural
resources. In terms of public policies, organic coffee growing is the best alternative for
small-scale coffee producers, enabling them to maintain their economic profitability.
The characteristics of the organic farms enable small producers to practice coffee
growing with 90% natural resources, representing lower costs of production and a
consequent increase in their competitiveness in the coffee market. Small conventional
producers should take the opportunity offered by increasing international demand and
start using the organic techniques that protect growers against the volatility in price.
 FNP Consultoria e Agroinformações. REVISTA AGRIANUAL 2004. Análise da agricultura
brasileira. São Paulo, 2004.
 ODUM, H.T. Environmental accounting, emergy and environmental decision-making. New
York: J. Wiley, 1996. 370p.
 GIANNETTI, B.F; BARELLA, F.A; ALMEIDA, C.M.V.B. A combined tool for environmental
scientists and decision makers: ternary diagrams and emergy accounting. Journal of Cleaner
Production. Elsevier Ltd. 2005.
 ORTEGA, E; SARCINELLI, O; MAFFEI, P.B. Combining Bookkeeping Techniques and
Emergy Analysis. 3º Biennial Emergy Conference. Janeiro 2004.
 FNP Consultoria e Agroinformações. REVISTA AGRIANUAL 2003. Perspectivas do mercado
internacional de café. São Paulo, 2003.
 FNP Consultoria e Agroinformações. REVISTA AGRIANUAL 2003. Perspectivas do mercado
internacional de café. São Paulo, 2003.
 ASSIS, R. L., FIGUEIREDO F. E., REYDON, B. P. Aspectos técnicos e econômicos em
agricultura convencional e alternativa: estudo de caso em café. Texto para discussão
The table below shows energy flow analysis for conventional coffee production in 2004
in Barrinha farm, which has 190 hectares of total area. The coffee cultivation area is 150
hectares and contains 4.400 plants per hectare, which are between 4 and 18 years old.
1. RENEWABLE NATURAL RESOURCES
Rain = 1.5 m3/m2/year x 1.000 Kg/m3 x 10.000 m2/ha x 5.000 J/Kg =
1.5 m3 rain index for this region, 1,000 Kg rain density, 10,000 m2 = 1
hectare area, and 5,000 J potential energy of rain. (Ortega, 2002)
Soil minerals = 20 Kg/ha.year (Ortega, 2002)
N2Atmosphere = 70 Kg/ha.year (Ortega, 2002)
Biologic control = 0
Compost = 1,000 Kg/ha.year
Subsistence agriculture = 30,000 Kg/ha.year (cattle, chickens, pigs,
vegetables and fruit)
2. NONRENEWABLE RESOURCES
Loss of soil = 20.000 Kg/ha/year x 0.04 Kg organic material/12g soil x
5.400 kcal/Kg mat.org. = 6,48E6 kcal/ha/year;
Conversion = 6,48E6 kcal/ha/year x 4.186 J/kcal = 1,79E10 J/ha.year
Loss of Biological Control = 3,07E8 j/ha.year (Ortega, 2002)
Loss of nutrients = 15,00 Kg/ha.year (Ortega, 2002)
Calcareous rock = 1000,00 Kg/ha.year (Agrianual, 2002)
Single super phosphate = 330,00 Kg/ha.year (Agrianual, 2002)
Fertilizer 20-00-20 = 2000,00 Kg/ha.year (Agrianual, 2002)
Zinc sulfate = 4,80 Kg/ha.year (Agrianual, 2002)
Boric acid = 6,00 Kg/ha.year (Agrianual, 2002)
Chemical Herbicides = 9,00 Kg/ha.year (Agrianual, 2002)
Chemical Pesticides = 3,50 Kg/ha.year (Agrianual, 2002)
Chemical Fungicides = 1,50 Kg/ha.year (Agrianual, 2002)
Cement = 40.000 Kg (seat farm) + 30.000 Kg (2 employee houses) +
20.000 Kg (coffee yard 750 m2) / 20 years (depreciation) / total area 190
hectares = 23,68 Kg/ha.year (Ortega, 2002)
Petroleum fuel = 50 liters/ha.year = 47 Kg fuel/ha.year x 10.000 Kcal/Kg x
4.186 J/Kcal = 5,86E8 j/ha.year (Ortega, 2002)
Iron = tractor 25.000 + 2 dryers 7.500 Kg + coffee bag machine 4.000 Kg =
44.000 Kg / 190 hectares / 20 years (depreciation) = 11,57 Kg/ha.year
Wood and its products = 40.000 Kg / depreciation 10 years / 190 ha =
21,05 Kg/ha.year (Ortega, 2002)
Steel = 6000 Kg (tractor) x 3 / 190 hectares / 20 years (depreciation) = 4,73
Kg/ha.year (Ortega, 2002)
Machinery and equipments maintenance = 28,00 US$/ ha.year (Ortega,
Other equipments (electricity e telephone) = 15,00 US$/ha.year
Coffee bags = US$ 2,80 unit x 34 bags/ha.year = 95,20 US$/ ha.year