Engineering and Architecture
Laureano Jiménez Esteller
Assumpció Antón Vallejo
Food and Agricultural Research Institute, IRTA.
Nanoscience, Materials and Chemical Engineering
Life-cycle assessment of agricultural engineering: Indicators for environmental quantification of nutrient flows and eutrophication impact assessment
Sustainable agricultural practices aim at maximizing yield while minimizing environmental impacts through optimisation techniques. To make good environmental decisions it is necessary to identify and assess all relevant environmental impacts along the life cycle of a technique (or product system) evaluated. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a sustainability assessment tool that quantifies the environmental impacts that inventoried resource use and emissions by a product system cause along its entire life cycle. The strength of LCA is that it takes a life cycle perspective (from extraction of raw materials, production, use/consumption to waste management at the end-of-life) and it covers a broad range of environmental issues (eutrophication, climate change, toxic impacts from chemicals, water use, and around ten more impact categories), avoiding burden shifting between life cycle stages and from one environmental issue to another.
In order to provide this global vision LCA needs of globally available environmental indicators. Current impact LCA methods are developed mainly as TIER 1 approach (that is, simple methods with default values). However, there are some environmental problems which depend on site specific geoclimatic conditions. For them, a TIER 1 approach is not accurate enough and an adaptation of the models to local conditions is necessary.
Agriculture, as significant source of nitrogen and phosphorus emissions in the form of nitrates and phosphates, is an important contributor to eutrophication. Eutrophication impact results from an excess of nutrients, to the environment, which leads to an increase in biomass production and consequent water quality degradation. In spite of the recent model developments to calculate the eutrophication impact of fertilisers and other eutrophying substances, available methods still present many shortcomings to evaluate eutrophication problems in specific geographical contexts, such as the Mediterranean one. The aim of this proposal is to focus on eutrophication impacts to improve available state-of-the-art methods.
IRTA-GIRO is currently under the Grant Agreement Preparation of the H2020-SFS-2017 projects:
- Nº 773649 Circular Agronomics (coordinator),
- Nº 773682 Nutri2Cycle (partner).
- Nº 774340 Organic-PLUS (partner).
For all of them, alternatives of nutrients sources for plants will be studied, and the development of eutrophication indicators to conduct environmental assessments is foreseen.
The present project will be under the umbrella of the objectives of the mentioned H2020-SFS-2017 projects:
• To adapt/develop in the frame of the LCA methodology a scientific, feasible and practical eutrophication indicator to assess nutrient flows and eventually potential ecosystem damage assessment, with special focus on the Mediterranean region
• To apply and test the novel method in specific case studies of different and relevant production systems on the Mediterranean region.
37.5 hours a week
|This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 713679|