Assessing the environmental impacts of cropping systems and cover crops: Life cycle assessment of FAST, a long-term arable farming field experiment

Assessing the environmental impacts of cropping systems and cover crops: Life cycle assessment of... To reduce environmental impacts of cropping systems, various management strategies are being discussed. Long-term field experiments are particularly suitable to directly compare different management strategies and to perform a comprehensive impact assessment. To identify the key drivers of several environmental impacts, we analysed a six year crop rotation of the Farming System and Tillage Experiment (FAST) by means of the Swiss Agriculture Life Cycle Assessment method (SALCA). The following factors of the FAST experiment were considered: (1) cropping system (stockless conventional farming vs. organic farming), (2) tillage (intensive tillage vs. no or reduced tillage), and (3) cover crop. We analysed the effects of these three factors on the global warming potential (GWP), aquatic and terrestrial eutrophication, and aquatic ecotoxicity for two functional units, i.e. per product and per area. Potential impacts on biodiversity were also analysed. Our analysis revealed that there is not one superior cropping system, as the ranking depended on the environmental impact selected and on the functional unit. The cropping system had the strongest effect on most of the environmental impacts, and this was mainly driven by differences in N-fertilisation (amount and form) and yield. The global warming potential, for instance, was highest in both conventional systems compared to the organic systems, when emissions were calculated per area. In contrast, calculating emissions per product, there were no statistical differences between all four systems. On the other hand, due to higher nitrogen emissions related to the application of cattle slurry in the organic system, the terrestrial eutrophication of the organic systems was higher than the conventional systems, independent of the functional unit. The effects of tillage were much lower compared to the cropping system. No tillage, but not necessarily reduced tillage, and the cultivation of cover crops had the potential to reduce aquatic eutrophication. As N-fertilisation dominated many impact categories, we suggest improving the N-efficiency as a crucial leverage point to improve the environmental performance of arable farming systems. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Agricultural Systems Elsevier

Assessing the environmental impacts of cropping systems and cover crops: Life cycle assessment of FAST, a long-term arable farming field experiment

Loading next page...
 
/lp/elsevier/assessing-the-environmental-impacts-of-cropping-systems-and-cover-fBMqyNf060
Publisher
Elsevier
Copyright
Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd
ISSN
0308-521x
D.O.I.
10.1016/j.agsy.2017.06.011
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

To reduce environmental impacts of cropping systems, various management strategies are being discussed. Long-term field experiments are particularly suitable to directly compare different management strategies and to perform a comprehensive impact assessment. To identify the key drivers of several environmental impacts, we analysed a six year crop rotation of the Farming System and Tillage Experiment (FAST) by means of the Swiss Agriculture Life Cycle Assessment method (SALCA). The following factors of the FAST experiment were considered: (1) cropping system (stockless conventional farming vs. organic farming), (2) tillage (intensive tillage vs. no or reduced tillage), and (3) cover crop. We analysed the effects of these three factors on the global warming potential (GWP), aquatic and terrestrial eutrophication, and aquatic ecotoxicity for two functional units, i.e. per product and per area. Potential impacts on biodiversity were also analysed. Our analysis revealed that there is not one superior cropping system, as the ranking depended on the environmental impact selected and on the functional unit. The cropping system had the strongest effect on most of the environmental impacts, and this was mainly driven by differences in N-fertilisation (amount and form) and yield. The global warming potential, for instance, was highest in both conventional systems compared to the organic systems, when emissions were calculated per area. In contrast, calculating emissions per product, there were no statistical differences between all four systems. On the other hand, due to higher nitrogen emissions related to the application of cattle slurry in the organic system, the terrestrial eutrophication of the organic systems was higher than the conventional systems, independent of the functional unit. The effects of tillage were much lower compared to the cropping system. No tillage, but not necessarily reduced tillage, and the cultivation of cover crops had the potential to reduce aquatic eutrophication. As N-fertilisation dominated many impact categories, we suggest improving the N-efficiency as a crucial leverage point to improve the environmental performance of arable farming systems.

Journal

Agricultural SystemsElsevier

Published: Oct 1, 2017

References

You’re reading a free preview. Subscribe to read the entire article.


DeepDyve is your
personal research library

It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.

Enjoy affordable access to
over 18 million articles from more than
15,000 peer-reviewed journals.

All for just $49/month

Explore the DeepDyve Library

Search

Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly

Organize

Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.

Access

Get unlimited, online access to over 18 million full-text articles from more than 15,000 scientific journals.

Your journals are on DeepDyve

Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.

All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.

See the journals in your area

DeepDyve

Freelancer

DeepDyve

Pro

Price

FREE

$49/month
$360/year

Save searches from
Google Scholar,
PubMed

Create lists to
organize your research

Export lists, citations

Read DeepDyve articles

Abstract access only

Unlimited access to over
18 million full-text articles

Print

20 pages / month

PDF Discount

20% off