IMPLICATIONS OF THE FARM AS A THERMODYNAMIC SYSTEM

How it all began

I have been privileged to have had practical experiences as a practicing Agricultural Engineer before becoming a teacher of Agricultural Engineering. I started my professional journey at the Bakolori Irrigation Project, Talata Mafara, Sokoto State (in the present Zamfara State) in 1988 as a maintenance Engineer. Later, I briefly participated in the opening of some rural roads in the old Oyo State before getting a full appointment as an Executive Agro-processor with Oyo State Agricultural Development Programme (OYSADEP), where I rose to become a Senior Agricultural Engineer. In OYSADEP, I was involved in the fabrication and installation of agro-processing equipment and storage facilities for needy farmers throughout the old and new Oyo States. My journey towards a career as a lecturer of Agricultural Engineering started after leaving OYSADEP but not without the push from my mother, Professor (Mrs) A.A. Jekayinfa, who prayerfully secured a lecturing appointment for me in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, here in LAUTECH. I was with the Mechanical Engineering Department for five years until year 2004 when the Department of Agricultural Engineering was carved out and I became the pioneer Head of Department. The rest, as they say, is history, as by the special grace and guidance of God, I rose from Lecturer II to Professor with effect from 1st October, 2010.

 

Mr. Vice-Chancellor, Sir, permit me to recap some facts on inaugural lectures from the inaugural lectureof John Adesiji Olorunmaiye titled, “Energy Conversion and Man”, delivered on May 24, 2012 at the University of Ilorin:The history of inaugural lectures dates back to 1708 when Thwaites, an English Professor of Greek delivered the first inaugural lecture.It is the tradition in Universities that Professors are invited to give an inaugural lecture which provides an opportunity to showcase their work to the wider public. It is also a celebratory occasion when the Professors can also share their achievements with colleagues, family and friends. Hence inaugural lectures are a valued tradition within Universities. The inaugural lecturer may choose to focus on his/her research work and his/her area of specialization or, he/she may decide to discuss broad issues of his/her profession.

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Mr. Vice-Chancellor, Sir, today I intend to combine the two. This lecture is therefore titled: “No Free Lunch: Implications of the Farm as a Thermodynamic System”.

 

No Free Lunch!

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap (Galatians 6:7)

If any would not work, neither should he eat (2 Thessalonians 5:10b)

 

“There is no such thing as a free lunch” is a popular saying to communicate the notion that it is impossible to get something for nothing. The “free lunch” in the saying is about the practice in American bars in the nineteenth-century where drinking customers, who had purchased at least one drink, were enticed with a “free lunch”. Because many of these foods on offer were high in salt (e.g., ham, cheese, and salted crackers), so those who ate them ended up buying a lot of beer (Heinlein, 1997). It is an acknowledgement that in reality a person or a society cannot get “something for nothing”. Even if something appears to be free, there is always a cost to the person(s) involved or to society as a whole, although it may be a hidden cost or an externality.

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Coming home to the sciences, “No free lunch” means that the universe as a whole is ultimately a closed system. There is no magic source of matter, energy, light, or indeed lunch, that does not draw resources from something else, and that will not eventually be exhausted. The slogan: “No free lunch” may therefore be applicable to natural physical processes in a closed system (either the universe as a whole, or a system that does not receive energy or matter from outside) as in second law of thermodynamics. The “No Free Lunch” or “You cannot get something from nothing” statement can be regarded as the vernacular version of the first law of thermodynamics: The total heat energy added to a system equals the increase in internal energy minus any work done by the system. This is equivalent to the principle of conservation of energy. “No free lunch” refers to the reality that even some of the most environmentally friendly implications still have negative effects. There is nothing that is purely ‘green’ because there will always be some negative side effects (Carroll, 2018).

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