Environmental impacts of barley cultivation under current and future climatic conditions

Teunis Johannes Dijkman, Morten Birkved, Henrik Saxe, Henrik Wenzel, Michael Zwicky Hauschild

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    The purpose of this work is to compare the environmental impacts of spring barley cultivation in Denmark under current (year 2010) and future (year 2050) climatic conditions. Therefore, a Life Cycle Assessment was carried out for the production of 1 kg of spring barley in Denmark, at farm gate. Both under 2010 and 2050 climatic conditions, four subscenarios were modelled, based on a combination of two soil types and two climates. Included in the assessment were seed production, soil preparation, fertilization, pesticide application, and harvest. When processes in the life cycle resulted in co-products, the resulting environmental impacts were allocated between the main product and their respective by-products using economic allocation. Impact assessment was done using the ReCiPe (H) methodology, except for toxicity impacts, which were assessed using USEtox. The results show that the impacts for all impact categories, except human and freshwater eco-toxicity, are higher when the barley is produced under climatic circumstances representative for 2050. Comparison of the 2010 and 2050 climatic scenarios indicates that a predicted decrease in barley yields under the 2050 climatic conditions is the main driver for the increased impacts. This finding was confirmed by the sensitivity analysis. Because this study focused solely on the impacts of climate change, technological improvements and political measures to reduce impacts in the 2050 scenario are not taken into account. Options to mitigate the environmental impacts are discussed.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
    Pages (from-to)644-653
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


    • Attributional LCA
    • Barley
    • Climate change
    • Future climate
    • Life Cycle Assessment


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