Global warming contributions from wheat, sheep meat and wool production in Victoria, Australia - a life cycle assessment
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This paper compares the life cycle global warming potential of three of Australia’s important agricultural production activities – the production of wheat, meat and wool in grazed subterranean clover (sub-clover) dominant pasture and mixed pasture (perennial ryegrass/phalaris/sub-clover/grass and cape weed) systems. Two major stages are presented in this life cycle assessment (LCA) analysis: pre-farm, and on-farm. The pre-farm stage includes greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agricultural machinery, fertilizer, and pesticide production and the emissions from the transportation of these inputs to paddock. The on-farm stage includes GHG emissions due to diesel use in on-farm transport and processing (e.g. seeding, spraying, harvesting, topdressing, sheep shearing), and non-CO2 (nitrous oxide (N2O), and methane (CH4)) emissions from pastures and crop grazing of lambs.The functional unit of this life cycle analysis is the GHG emissions (carbon dioxide equivalents – CO2 -e) from 1 kg of wheat, sheep meat and wool produced from sub-clover, wheat and mixed pasture plots. The GHG emissions (e.g. CO2, N2O and CH4 emission) from the production, transportation and use of inputs (e.g. fertilizer, pesticide, farm machinery operation) during pre-farm and on-farm stages are also included. The life cycle GHG emissions of 1 kg of wool is significantly higher than that of wheat and sheep meat. The LCA analysis identified that the on-farm stage contributed the most significant portion of total GHG emissions from the production of wheat, sheep meat and wool. This LCA analysis also identified that CH4 emissions from enteric methane production and from the decomposition of manure accounted for a significant portion of the total emissions from sub-clover and mixed pasture production, whilst N2O emissions from the soil have been found to be the major source of GHG emissions from wheat production.
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