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  • 1. Henryson, K.
    et al.
    Sundberg, Cecilia
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Sustainable development, Environmental science and Engineering. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Department of Energy and Technology, Sweden.
    Kätterer, T.
    Hansson, P. -A
    Accounting for long-term soil fertility effects when assessing the climate impact of crop cultivation2018In: Agricultural Systems, ISSN 0308-521X, E-ISSN 1873-2267, Vol. 164, p. 185-192Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Soil organic carbon (SOC) dynamics influence the climate impact of crop cultivation, both through affecting net carbon exchange between the soil and the atmosphere and through affecting soil fertility. Higher soil fertility can enhance yield, and consequently make more plant residues available for carbon sequestration in the soil. This feedback mechanism between SOC and yield is commonly not included when assessing the environmental impact of crop production using system analysis tools like life cycle assessment (LCA). Therefore, this study developed a modelling framework where the SOC-yield feedback mechanism is included in climate impact assessment of crop cultivation, and which could be applied in LCAs. The framework was constructed by combining a model for SOC dynamics, yield response to SOC changes in a Swedish long-term field experiment and climate impact assessment. The framework employs a dynamic approach, with a time-distributed emissions inventory and a time-dependent climate impact assessment model, complemented by the most common climate metric, global warming potential (GWP). A case study applying the framework to barley cultivation was performed to explore the quantitative effect of including the feedback mechanism on the calculated climate impact. The case study involved simulating a fertiliser-induced 10% yield increase during one year and assessing the climate impact over 100 years. The effect of solely including SOC dynamics without the yield response to SOC decreased climate impact per kg barley by about three-fold more than only accounting for the 10% temporary yield increase. When the feedback mechanism was included, the estimated climate impact decreased five-fold more than when SOC changes were not included. These results show that SOC changes affect the climate impact of cultivation, not only through affecting net CO2 exchanges between soil and atmosphere, as previously acknowledged by other studies, but also through changing the system performance. The quantitative results obtained in this study show that this could be an important aspect to include in order to avoid introducing systematic error when assessing the long-term climate impact of crop management changes that affect yield or SOC dynamics.

  • 2. Tidåker, P.
    et al.
    Sundberg, Cecilia R.
    Öborn, I.
    Kätterer, T.
    Bergkvist, G.
    Rotational grass/clover for biogas integrated with grain production - A life cycle perspective2014In: Agricultural Systems, ISSN 0308-521X, E-ISSN 1873-2267, Vol. 129, p. 133-141Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Rotational perennial grass/clover has multiple effects in cropping systems dominated by cereals. This study evaluated the environmental impact of rotational grass/clover ley for anaerobic digestion in a cereal-dominated grain production system in Sweden. Life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology was used to compare two scenarios: (i) a cropping system including only spring barley and winter wheat; and (ii) a cropping system including 2-year grass/clover ley in combination with spring barley and winter wheat. The functional unit was one tonne of grain. The two main functions of the grass/clover crop were to provide feedstock for biogas production and to act as an organic fertiliser for allocation among the cereal crops in the rotation. Special consideration was given to nitrogen (N) management and the rotational effects of the grass/clover ley. In total, 73% of the N requirement of cereals in the ley scenario was met through symbiotic N fixation. Replacing diesel with biogas and mineral fertiliser with digested grass/clover biomass (digestate) reduced the use of fossil fuels substantially, from 1480. MJ per tonne in the reference scenario to -2900. MJ per tonne in the ley scenario. Potential eutrophication per tonne grain increased in the ley scenario, mainly owing to significantly higher ammonia emissions from spreading digestate and the larger area required for producing the same amount of grain. Potential acidification also increased when N mineral fertiliser was replaced by digestate. Crops relying on symbiotic N fixation are a promising feedstock for reducing the use of non-renewable energy in the production chain of farm-based bioenergy, but careful handling of the N-rich digestate is required. Replacing cereals intended for feed or food with bioenergy crops leads to indirect land use changes (iLUC) when the displaced crops must be produced elsewhere and the benefits obtained when biofuels replace fossil fuels may thereby be outweighed. In this study, the iLUC factor assumed had a critical effect on global warming potential in the ley scenario. However, carbon sequestration and the higher yield potential of subsequent cereal crops can mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from iLUC to a varying extent. We recommend that crop sequences rather than single crops be considered when evaluating the environmental impact of production systems that include perennial legumes for food, feed and bioenergy.

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