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Northern australian beef supply chain life cycle assessment - final report

This study completed a Life cycle assessment (LCA) investigating resource use and environmental impacts from beef production in two Queensland supply chains, from production on-farm through to consumption either in Australia or Japan. The study investigated energy demand, water use, land occupation, eutrophication potential, soil depletion potential and greenhouse gas emissions. We divided the supply chain into three sections and presented results for each: the first being ‘production of live weight beef at the farm gate’, the second being ‘production of boned beef ready for wholesale/retail’ and the last being ‘beef consumed in the home, either in Australia or Japan’.

At the farm gate, energy, water and GHG were similar to previous studies of Australian beef and international studies. Energy demand as primarily associated with purchased inputs (i.e. feed supplements and services) and farm energy use (i.e. diesel and electricity use). Water use was primarily associated with direct drinking water requirements for livestock, and storage losses (evaporation) from farm dams. Land occupation was divided into arable and non-arable land resources. Of these, the arable land occupation was minimal, though rangeland occupation was substantial. Arable land resources are constrained in Australia and globally, and this is a critical resource for food production. The sustainable and efficient use of these land resources is critical for maintaining global food production. Results show comparable GHG emissions to other recent Australian studies at the farm gate (11.2-12.9 kg CO2-e / kg LW). While nutrient loss to waterways is a topic of national concern in Australia, there was insufficient primary research available to develop characterisation factors and quantify eutrophication for the supply chains investigated in this study. Therefore, Eutrophication Potential was qualitatively assessed for each farm. The authors determined that the eutrophication potential from beef production was very low for these farms because of the very low stocking rates and negligible fertiliser inputs.

Throughout the supply chain, the absolute value of the impacts increased with a change of functional unit e.g. from live-weight to boned beef, or from boned beef to beef consumed at the home.

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1.7MB 07/05/2014

This page was last updated on 25/07/2017

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