Carbon footprint and energy use of recycled fertilizers in arable farming

Show full item record



Kyttä , V V , Helenius , J & Tuomisto , H 2021 , ' Carbon footprint and energy use of recycled fertilizers in arable farming ' , Journal of Cleaner Production , vol. 287 , 125063 .

Title: Carbon footprint and energy use of recycled fertilizers in arable farming
Author: Kyttä, Venla Vilhelmiina; Helenius, Juha; Tuomisto, Hanna
Contributor organization: Department of Agricultural Sciences
Future Sustainable Food Systems
Ruralia Institute, Mikkeli
Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS)
Juha Helenius / Principal Investigator
Plant Production Sciences
Date: 2021-03-10
Language: eng
Number of pages: 10
Belongs to series: Journal of Cleaner Production
ISSN: 0959-6526
Abstract: The globally growing demand to produce more food with fewer inputs, less energy, and lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions challenges current agricultural practices. Recycled fertilizers made of various side streams and types of biomass have been developed mainly to improve nutrient recycling in food systems. However, the knowledge of the impacts of different recycled fertilizers on GHG emissions and energy use is lacking. There is also a need for developing environmental assessment methods for quantifying the impacts of recycling processes, particularly in terms of choosing reasonable methods for co-product allocation. The aims of this study were to address the above mentioned research gaps by i) assessing energy use and GHG emissions of various recycled fertilizers, ii) comparing the recycled fertilizers with mineral fertilizers, and iii) comparing the impacts of using different co-product allocation methods for the recycled fertilizers. Attributional Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) was used for estimating energy use and GHG emissions of recycled fertilizers, including ammonium sulfate, biogas digestate, and meat and bone meal, using kg of nitrogen in the fertilizers as a functional unit. In addition, the energy use and GHG emissions of oat production when using the recycled and mineral fertilizers were quantified. The data were obtained from field experiments, LCA databases, published literature, and fertilizer companies. The life-cycle energy consumption and GHG emissions of recycled fertilizers were found to be lower than that of mineral fertilizer, but also differences between recycled fertilizer products were notable. The biggest differences between fertilizers occurred in manufacturing and transportation. However, this conclusion is highly sensitive to several decisions, such as data sources and LCA methods used. Handling the raw materials of recycled fertilizers as by-products instead of residues adds burdens from primary production to fertilizers. Also handling the materials as waste increases the impacts due to burdens from the recycling process. Since the raw materials of fertilizers have only little economic value, applying economic allocation results to significantly lower impacts than mass allocation. Consequential LCA studies would be needed to improve the understanding of the wider impacts of recycled fertilizers, e.g. considering the benefits of avoided waste management processes. (C) 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Subject: 1172 Environmental sciences
Climate change
4111 Agronomy
Life cycle assessment
Meat and bone meal
Ammonium sulfate
Biogas digestate
Nutrient recycling
Peer reviewed: Yes
Rights: cc_by_nc_nd
Usage restriction: openAccess
Self-archived version: acceptedVersion
Funder: Ecolan Oy c/o Kuopion Ykköstilit Oy
Soilfood Oy 26874531
Helsingin seudun ympäristöpalvelut -kuntayhtymä, Ostolaskut
Uudenmaan ELY-keskus
Grant number: 145441

Files in this item

Total number of downloads: Loading...

Files Size Format View
Revised_manuscript_clean_version.pdf 1.212Mb PDF View/Open

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show full item record