congresos y reuniones científicas
Land Use in drylands: Desertification risk assessment. An agricultural case study.
Conferencia; Vth International Conference on Life Cycle Assessment, CILCA2013; 2013
Institución organizadora:
Universidad Tecnológica Nacional
Purpose Intensive land use activities in arid, semi-arid and sub-humid lands (dry lands) may lead to desertification phenomenon, resulting in a final stage completely depleted or entirely degraded. Life Cycle Assessment studies of products, processes, activities or services that use a piece of land in dry lands should include desertification impact category to assess land use. This work aims at showing the inclusion of a desertification impact methodology developed to assess land use considering a set of variables measured in the Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) and the calculated Characterization Factors (CF) for dry land. It also shows an application to an agricultural case study. Methods The desertification impact model is applied to 16 plots devoted to agricultural activities in two countries: Argentina and Spain. In Spanish plots, winter wheat (Triticum aestivum), a traditional cereal crop and rapeseed (Brassica napus)a widespread energy crop, are considered. Two energy crops, that are being introduced in the biomass energy circuit are considered in the Argentinean case study: rapeseed (Brassica napus) and topinambour (Heliantus tuberosus). A bare soil state is considered in both countries as a reference state. Both case studies consider only the agricultural stage in the Inventory of a complete Life Cycle Assessment study and also only one impact category in Life Cycle Environmental Assessment: desertification impact due to land occupation. Results On the basis of the obtained results it can be inferred that cultivating 1 hectare (ha) of rapeseed and 1 ha of wheat has the same impact on the analyzed plots in Spain, and improves the reference state conditions in 50% of the cases. On the other hand, rapeseed grown in Mendoza produces almost the same impact than topinambour. The latter Normalized areas of plots could be useful to compare results in different regions of the world to avoid the influence of the area of occupation in results. Conclusions The desertification risk model makes a relevant contribution to Life Cycle Impact Assessment because there has not been an impact assessment tool for land use in drylands within the LCA framework so far. One of the main strengths of the proposed model is that it offers a simple way to quantify the desertification impact y dry lands. It is highlighted that the model can be adapted without difficulty to the evaluation of all types of crops with different management practices in different regions in the Life Cycle Impact Assessment stage.