This paper aims to assess and compare the sustainability of rapeseed and sunflower crop cultivation for energy purposes in Italy, by considering environmental and economic performances at the farm level. The analysis focused on twelve representative farming units that were extracted from a sample of 396 farms by applying a cluster analysis. Using an Attributional Life Cycle Assessment method, the values of midpoint environmental impact categories and the carbon footprint of the twelve farms were assessed. The economic performance of rapeseed and sunflower per 1 Mg of biomass cultivation was measured in terms of the value added. In order to combine an environmental and economic assessment, the eco-efficiency ratio was applied to measure the value added per Mg of greenhouse gasses emitted into the atmosphere. Three rapeseed farms had the lowest GHG emissions of the whole sample. Practices of intensive farming with high fertilization and mechanization (fertilizer and machinery production and usage) are known to have a negative environmental impact. When the level of productivity is low, the impact is still higher. Regarding the eco-efficiency ratio, of the twelve representative farming units, results showed again that the three rapeseed farms had the highest eco-efficiency ratio. Summarizing both perspectives, findings from the eco-efficiency analysis gave a premium to rapeseed over sunflower crop in terms of the economic value added per kg of GHGs emitted into the atmosphere. The study findings presented a complex picture of the crops and of agricultural practices of each farm that underlines the variability and sensitivity of results in specific case studies. Indeed, the complexity of the matter, including the implications of bioenergy crops for energy and food safety beyond the environmental and economic assessment of the cultivation phase, cannot be ignored. Further studies are needed to apply a multiple perspective to the joint analysis of the sustainability of agricultural processes related to first generation bioenergy crops.
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI):||10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.11.094|
|Codice identificativo ISI:||WOS:000423002500013|
|Codice identificativo Scopus:||2-s2.0-85038863925|
|Titolo:||The eco-efficiency of rapeseed and sunflower cultivation in Italy. Joining environmental and economic assessment|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|