Assessing the climate and eutrophication impacts of grass cultivation at five sites in Sweden
In this study, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology was combined with the agro-ecosystem model DNDC to assess the climate and eutrophication impacts of perennial grass cultivation at five different sites in Sweden. The system was evaluated for two fertilisation rates, 140 and 200 kg N ha−1. The climate impact showed large variation between the investigated sites. The largest contribution to the climate impact was through soil N2O emissions and emissions associated with mineral fertiliser manufacturing. The highest climate impact was predicted for the site with the highest clay and initial organic carbon content, while lower impacts were predicted for the sandy loam soils, due to low N2O emissions, and for the silty clay loam, due to high carbon sequestration rate. The highest eutrophication potential was estimated for the sandy loam soils, while the sites with finer soil texture had lower eutrophication potential. According to the results, soil properties and weather conditions were more important than fertilisation rate for the climate impact of the system assessed. It was concluded that agro-ecosystem models can add a spatial and temporal dimension to environmental impact assessment in agricultural LCA studies. The results could be used to assist policymakers in optimising use of agricultural land.