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Life Cycle Assessment of four southern beef supply chains

​Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a powerful tool for investigating system efficiency and identifying the environmental impacts associated with a product such as beef. This project extends LCA research for Australian red meat to four southern Australian (New South Wales and Victorian) beef supply chains producing beef for several grass and grain fed markets. The study was based on data from four farms and three feedlots producing cattle for a number of grass-fed and grain-fed markets, and includes a comparison of grass, grass/forage and grain finishing systems. Results were presented "per kilogram of live weight" at the farm gate, while results for the backgrounding/finishing systems were compared "per kilogram of live weight gain (LWG)" excluding impacts from breeding. The study covered the following resource use and environmental impact indicators: Cumulative Energy Demand, Consumptive Water Use, Stress Weighted Water Use, Land Occupation, Eutrophication Potential, Phosphorus Flux Potential, Soil Carbon Flux Potential and Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions. This is the most comprehensive study of its type for southern Australian beef production to date.

The results from this study were broadly similar to previous Australian beef LCA research. Compared to the international literature, the results were lower in energy use and similar to, or lower, GHG emissions intensity. Energy demand for the mid weight steers in the study ranged from 4.3-8.1 MJ / kg LW and water use ranged from 107-298 L / kg LW. Stress weighted water use was lower on average, ranging from 23-43 L H2O-e / kg LW for cattle from three of the mid-weight supply chains, and 287 L H2O-e / kg LW from the remaining farm.

​In addition to details on the other resource use and environmental impact indicators assessed, recommendations are provided for future research, which could include investigation of a series of scenarios to reduce resource use and emissions intensity from grain fed beef.

Other projects that related to final report B.FLT.0364 are COMP.094, FLOT.328A, FLOT.328B, FLOT.328C, FLOT.328D, FLOT.328E, FLOT.328F, B.FLT.0339A, B.FLT.0339B, B.FLT.0350 and B.FLT.0360.

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Title Size Date published
2.2MB 01/10/2014

This page was last updated on 25/07/2017

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