by Walton McCarthy

After an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attack, cyber attack, or coronal mass ejection (CME), people will be on their own with no electricity from the grid

Self-Sufficient Living post EMP or Cyber Attack

After an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attack, cyber attack, or coronal mass ejection (CME), people will be on their own with no electricity from the grid to power wells or pumps for city water, no toilet since there is no water, no power for fuel pumps to transfer fuel from underground tanks to food delivery trucks, no lights at night, no heating for homes since almost all HVAC units depend on electrical blowers or circulating pumps, no radio or TV, no refrigeration etc. The truly self-sufficient living that I will be talking about is based on a post EMP or cyber attack event.


Modern Off-Grid Self Sufficient living with electricity and running water, not caveman off-grid living, can be accomplished with solar or wind power and propane. Underground 1000 or 2000 gallon propane tanks can power a house for over a year using a propane refrigerator, propane heating stove, propane cooking stove, and propane hot water heater. Solar panels and/or wind generators, that have been stored in an EMP shielded housing, can provide power for the well pump, furnace blower, lights, TV and DVD player etc. This also involves starting out with one year storage of food, salt, medical supplies, toilet paper, dish detergent, laundry detergent, diesel fuel, seeds, herbicides, pesticides, disease killing agents, etc. since the EMP event could happen in the fall which means there may not be a crop harvest until the following fall.


There are primarily three types of farms. Crop farming, where there are only vegetables, legumes, nuts, or fruit grown. Animal farms where there are animals such as cows, goats, chickens etc. raised, and dairy farming where the only focus is raising cows to produce milk. A self-sufficient farm can be a crop farm or an animal farm or a combination of the two. My focus will be on the crop farm. Generally, it will require approximately 1-2 acres of growing area per person per year depending on the growing season, soil, weather, crop, irrigation, etc. Southern states can grow 2-3 crops per year where Northern states usually have only one crop per year.


Generally, it will require approximately 5-7 pounds of food per day per person at approximately 500 calories per pound using dry foods like beans, oats, rice, wheat and wet foods like carrots, lettuce and potatoes. If protein sources such as milk and eggs are available, the lower number would be more accurate. An acre is 43,560 ft2 or roughly 208 ft. x 208 ft. If you base crop production on 30 inch row spacing with a tractor track of 60 inches, than there would be 83 rows that are 208 ft. long totaling 17,264 lineal ft. of rows per acre. Some crops require 15 inch spacing but when planting there must be some 30 in spacing to allow for the tractor tires to pass through without crushing the plants. Post EMP Attack Crop Spacing Scenarios


Barley 9 1,530 2,808
Bean-Lima 8 1,360 2,496
Bean Pinto 5 850 1,560
Bean Great Northern 8 1,360 2,496
Broccoli 40 6,800 12,480
Cabbage 67 11,390 20,904
Cantaloupe 44 7,480 13,728
Carrots 90 15,300 28,080
Corn off cob 40 6,800 12,480
Onions 95 16,150 29,640
Oats 6 1,020 1,872
Peas shelled 40 6,800 12,480
Bell Pepper 40 6,800 12,480
Potatoes 200 34,000 62,400
Spinach 40 6,800 12,480
Tomatoes 250 42,500 78,000
Winter Wheat 12 2,040 3,744

*Inexperienced growers should reduce these values by 50%. **Averaged from numerous USDA and University sources


A small farm tractor with a front loader is a critical tool. I would recommend choosing an “all mechanical” tractor with a Tier III engine with no electronics anywhere so it is not vulnerable to EMP and can be repaired without a specially trained technician. There are still some new Tier III tractors available. Farm tractors in the US contribute only 1/20th of 1% of the pollution from combustion engines and they produce all the food and are still subject to EPA regulations. Any tractor with common rail fuel injection has electronics subject to EMP. Replacing the electronic part will still not repair the tractor. The new electronic part requires an online connection to the factory to fix the settings. If you try to do all the farming functions by hand, you will burn up too many calories, subject yourself to mosquitos and sun, and wear yourself out. A small farm tractor is needed for tillage, seeding, carrying or pumping water, carrying harvest, carrying wood, carrying fuel from abandoned local fuel supplies using a 3 pt fuel tank, lifting , spraying of fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides, lifting or dragging logs from the forest, post hole digging, making or maintaining roads, and digging drainage ditches. It is a critical tool and the tractor should have at least 55 engine horsepower and four wheel drive because the rear wheels get light when the loader bucket is loaded so a two wheel drive cannot handle much loader weight. Generators can be connected to the Power Take Off or PTO on the back of the tractor to generate electricity. Most PTO generators do not have any electronics. The PTO can also be used to power a PTO water pump for irrigation. If you commandeer diesel from a local fuel station, diesel is shown by a green hex or pentagon like a hex head bolt. This is the symbol and color on the underground diesel tank. Weeding between rows can usually be accomplished with cultivators or sweeps attached to the 3 point hitch on the back of the tractor. In row weeding is usually not needed with the right cultivator and weeds in the rows can be tolerated. Weeding in the rows can only be accomplished by hand and should not be needed. If the tractor has a cab, the tractor driver will be protected from the sun, overheating, cold weather, wind, dust, hearing damage from the engine noise, inhaling fertilizers-herbicides-pesticides, mosquitoes, ticks, and skin contamination from whatever is being sprayed. If the tractor does not have a cab the driver will have to wear a respirator, long sleeves shirts, hat, and after spraying or plowing will have to wash and dry all clothes for the next day. If you live near an area that has a lot of automobile traffic that could block the road if traffic is stalled, the front loader on the tractor should be able to lift at least 2500 lbs., (55 Eng. HP tractor approximately $26,000 new or $31,000 with a cab) so the tractor can lift the front of the car using the loader bucket and chain and drag it out of the way. It can also be used to lift barriers into place around the farm. After an EMP disaster, the front loader can also be used to dig graves which is one of the tasks that EMP survivors must face and accept. Hide and protect the tractor whenever it is not being used. When the tractor is being used, at least one person should be a look-out to spot other people who could be a threat to your crops, stored food or your tractor. The all mechanical farm tractor is a critical piece of equipment perfectly suited for self-sufficiency. The old US Army trucks that preppers like to purchase can do none of the above, burns up a lot of fuel, and gets caught in traffic like other vehicles. It is completely the wrong piece of equipment for the situation. The sheltered communities that I have set up all have at least one tractor and plans to retrieve people from their homes using the tractor to either pull a trailer or pull cars with people in it car seats back to the farm. The TRACTOR TIME table below allows you to plan how much time and fuel is needed depending on the effective size of your implement pulled behind the tractor. The tractor size is usually based on 8 to 10 engine HP per ft. of implement so a disc harrow that is 6 ft. wide, which is the most power intensive implement, would require at least a 48 engine HP tractor. To predict how much diesel fuel to store can be estimated based on a 100 HP tractor consuming 4 gph.[i] A 55 HP tractor would then consume approximately 2.2 gph. Tilling, seeding, cultivating, spraying, and harvesting, will usually take 6-8 passes over the growing area with the tractor. The rule of thumb for fuel consumption from tillage to harvest for utility tractors is usually based on approximately 5 gallons per acre.[ii] A 50 acre growing area for two seasons would require a common 500 gallon above ground diesel tank which should not be kept out of the sun.


Implement Travel-miles/acre hrs/acre hrs/acre hrs/acre hrs/acre hrs/acre Hrs/100 acres
Width FT.   2 mph 3 mph 4 mph 5 mph 6 mph 3 mph
4 2.1 1.03 0.69 0.52 0.41 0.34 69
5 1.7 0.83 0.55 0.41 0.33 0.28 55
6 1.4 0.69 0.46 0.34 0.28 0.23 46
7 1.2 0.59 0.39 0.30 0.24 0.20 39
8 1.0 0.52 0.34 0.26 0.21 0.17 34
9 0.9 0.46 0.31 0.23 0.18 0.15 31
10 0.8 0.41 0.28 0.21 0.17 0.14 28
11 0.8 0.38 0.25 0.19 0.15 0.13 25
12 0.7 0.34 0.23 0.17 0.14 0.11 23
13 0.6 0.32 0.21 0.16 0.13 0.11 21
14 0.6 0.30 0.20 0.15 0.12 0.10 20
16 0.5 0.26 0.17 0.13 0.10 0.09 17

Complete Proteins If you do not have chickens for eggs or cows to produce milk, you can use the table below to form a complete protein from a pure vegetable farm. To make this plan work requires knowledge of what makes a complete protein. Protein is composed of 21 amino acids. Of these 21, the human body can manufac­ture all but 9. Any food containing these 9 amino acids is a complete protein. The table below has tabulated the proper combinations of foods to make a complete protein from the most common foods used to make breads, rolls, cereals, baked beans, vegetables, cookies, meat dishes (TVP), and milk. CREATING COMPLETE PROTEINS[iii]

Dairy Grains Legumes Seeds
Milk —————— Complete Complete Complete
Yogurt —————— Complete Complete Complete
Cheese —————— Complete Complete Complete
Bread Complete —————— Complete ————–
Pasta Complete —————— Complete ————–
Tortillas Complete —————— Complete ————–
Flour Complete —————— Complete ————–
Rice Complete —————— Complete ————–
Oats Complete —————— Complete ————–
Corn Complete —————— Complete ————–
Peanuts Complete Complete ————– Complete
Split Peas Complete Complete ————– Complete
Lentils Complete Complete ————– Complete
Pinto Beans Complete Complete ————– Complete
Kidney Beans Complete Complete ————– Complete
Navy Beans Complete Complete ————– Complete
Soy Beans Complete Complete ————– Complete
Soy Milk Complete Complete ————– Complete
Bean Sprouts Complete Complete ————– Complete
Tofu Complete Complete ————– Complete
Sunflower —————— —————— Complete ————–
Sesame —————– —————– Complete ————
Alfalfa —————— —————— Complete ————–
Alfalfa Sprouts —————— —————— Complete ————–

Example 1: A meal consisting of Legumes and Grains will form a complete protein.


Develop an agriculture library with the help of your local extension service through the county or local university. Make a list of local farmers who could serve as an agricultural resource for growing experience, sharing land, equipment, food, fuel, etc. Make a list of all fuel stations and bulk storage tanks of fuel that are near to you. You may have to take your tractor there to get fuel using your 12-volt fuel transfer pump and fuel tank. Use a storage shed or garage to store food, fuel, seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. Food can also be used in place of money. Trading food for fuel, medical supplies or labor is extremely valuable. Unlike Doomsday Preppers, EMP self sufficient people see other people as a resource, not necessarily a target.


Fertilizing with manure from horses, cows, goats, or hogs produces a lot of weeds compared to chemical fertilizers. Weeds can be better controlled if a cover crop is used. Cover crops drown out weeds and put nitrogen in the soil. Some good cover crops are rye, field peas, sorghum, buck wheat, clover, and hairy vetch. Your local seed supplier can recommend what has worked well in your area. Before planting the main crop, the cover crop is then killed or turned over and the main crop gets a head start on the weeds. The herbicide, pesticides and disease management solution needed will depend on the crop grown. There are many organic and non-organic varieties of herbicide, pesticides and disease control chemicals that do not need a license to purchase. I have found that the best application equipment is a boomless sprayer or mist sprayer which is a PTO powered blower mounted on the three point hitch and throws out a mist over 70 ft. and requires about 1/3 less herbicide or pesticide than conventional boom sprayers. It is an excellent method for any size farming operation. I would always start by asking your local seed supplier what crop, herbicide, pesticide and disease solutions have been successful in your area.

Walton McCarthy, author of Principles of ProtectionWalton McCarthy is a mechanical engineer with 40 years’ experience in designing and installing over 1,400 underground shelters and the author of PRINCIPLES OF PROTECTION, The US Handbook Of NBC Weapon Fundamentals and Shelter Engineering Design Standards, 6th edition 2013, 740 pp. Brown Books. This book sets forth the definitive design standards for underground nuclear, biological, chemical, and EMP shelter engineering. The book was written with help from experts from the US Department of Defense, US Department of Energy, Strategic Applications International (SAIC), Oak Ridge National Laboratories, Nuclear Engineering Laboratory from the University of Illinois, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Chemical Division of Edgewood Arsenal, US National Bureau of Standards, and the US Defense Nuclear Agency. This is the book that the US Government should have written with tables showing actual radiation doses based on the distance from ground zero and the size of the nuclear weapon. It is considered the bible in the underground shelter industry and used by engineers and architects around the world.

[i] Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech Publication 442-073 Table 4. [ii] Colorado State University Extension Fact Sheet No. 5.006 [iii] PRINCIPLES OF PROTECTION, The US Handbook of NBC Weapon Fundamentals and Shelter Engineering Design Standards, 6th Edition 2013, 727 pp. Brown Books, Chapter 12.PRINCIPLES OF PROTECTION, The US Handbook of NBC Weapon Fundamentals and Shelter Engineering Design Standards


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