Stocks and flows of nutrients and agricultural land use in a vegan Finland

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Title: Stocks and flows of nutrients and agricultural land use in a vegan Finland
Author: Nishimoto, Yoko
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, Department of Agricultural Sciences
Publisher: Helsingfors universitet
Date: 2017
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Växtproduktionsvetenskap
Plant Production Science
Abstract: Globally growing meat consumption causes concerns as meat production contributes to a wide range of environmental impacts. Animal rearing emits considerable amount of greenhouse gases and may cause the eutrophication of water bodies. Animal production requires more inputs compared to crop production because of the low efficiency of feed conversion. In Finland, more than half of the agricultural area is used to produce feeds, which could also be consumed as human food. In this study, nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) flows were analyzed by substance flow analysis whereas agricultural land-use for different diets was analyzed based on current yield levels. The diets compared in this study were: the current average Finnish diet (BAU) and the vegan diet (VEG). VEG was determined by several diet recommendations for veganism. Land-use change by the diet scenarios was estimated by adjusting the production of crops that are grown in Finland. Nutrient flows were estimated based on the production of crops and domestic consumption by the diets. Only 31% of the current cultivated area for major cereals in Finland was needed for VEG. Only one fifth of nitrogen and one sixth of phosphorus uptake from soil to plant production in BAU was needed in VEG. Although 1.8 times more nitrogen and 1.5 times more phosphorus were needed from plant production in VEG compared to BAU, the final amount consumed from plant production by the domestic were larger in both nutrients. This study extremely narrowed the target system without considering import and export and the role of animal production in agriculture. These circumstances need to be considered in further research to understand better the impacts of animal production.
Subject: nutrient flow
land use
vegan diet
Finnish agriculture

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