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Life cycle inventories for the Australian grains sector

Simmons, Aaron T., Murray, Alexandra, Brock, Philippa M., Grant, Timothy, Cowie, Annette L., Eady, Sandra, Sharma, Bharat
Crop & pasture science 2019 v.70 no.7 pp. 575-584
agroecological zones, barley, canola, carbon dioxide, cradle-to-gate, crop production, data collection, ecotoxicology, environmental impact, eutrophication, experts, fossil fuels, freshwater, global warming, grain crops, greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases, industry, interviews, inventories, land use, legumes, life cycle inventory, wheat
Grain production is a key source of food globally and is an important agricultural system for the Australian economy. Environmental impacts such as the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) associated with grain production are well documented and the Australian grains industry has strived to ensure ongoing improvement. To facilitate this improvement, the industry funded the development of life cycle inventories to provide broad geographical coverage. Cradle-to-gate inventories for wheat were developed for each of the grains industry agro-ecological zones, and inventories were developed for minor cereal crops (e.g. barley, sorghum), oilseeds (i.e. canola) and legumes where relevant. Data for inventory development were taken from numerous sources and validated by using data collected through interviews with experts in each agro-ecological zone. Inventory data were also collected so that indicators in addition to global-warming impacts could be assessed. Global warming impacts for wheat production ranged from 193 to 567 kg carbon dioxide equivalents (CO₂-e) t–¹, and global warming impacts were 597–851, 333–361, 169–285 and 74–672 kg CO₂-e t–¹ for canola, sorghum, barley and grain-legume production, respectively. Results for eutrophication, freshwater ecotoxicity, land-use and abiotic depletion (fossil-fuel use) are also presented.