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Which factors are decisive for sustainable grain maize production?

HOW DOES THE ECOLOGICAL SUSTAINABILITY OF PLANT PRODUCTION SYSTEMS VARY?

Plant production systems vary greatly in terms of operational management and local environmental factors. Examples include the choice of fertiliser, soil texture, climate, innovations on the farm, etc. We are investigating to what extent these aspects contribute to the environmental impact.

ECOLOGICAL SUSTAINABILITY ASSESSED USING LIFE CYCLE ANALYSIS

Life cycle analysis (LCA) allows the environmental impact of plant production systems to be assessed. In this research project, we focus on the cultivation of grain maize, a widely grown crop in Flanders. The use of raw materials as well as the consequences of the released emissions will be evaluated for different scenarios.

SOME RESULTS...

The CEENE method teaches us how much exergy is required for the production of 1 kg of grain maize. Factors such as innovation, good weather conditions result in a reduction of inputs while the need for irrigation or bad weather conditions are detrimental to the necessary inputs. The ReCiPe endpoint method teaches us that innovations can lead to reduced emissions associated with the production of 1kg of grain maize, but on the other hand a different choice of fertilizer often leads to increased emissions. It is important to note that the effects on soil quality are not evaluated in either method.

More information: lieselot.boone@ilvo.vlaanderen.be

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