Process evaluation of the ecological performance of food and energy plant production systems

René Kollmann, Franz Friebel, Georg Neugebauer, Michael Narodoslawsky

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The amount of bio-resources our society is using either for food or energy is increasingly influencing European Union policy lines like the Strategic Energy Technology Plan (EC, 2007), the European Bio-Economy (EC, 2012) and the Common Agricultural Policy (EC, 2010) as well as dealt with in scientific research e.g. Narodoslawsky (2010). This paper examines the environmental impact of agricultural production systems for food and energy plants in Austria, applying an LCA approach. Agricultural products were evaluated using the ecological assessment tool SPIonWeb (SPIonWeb, 2015). The method behind – the Sustainable Process Index (SPI) – provides an encompassing evaluation that distinguishes sharply between fossil and renewable energy but taking other emissions to soil water and atmosphere into account as well. The SPI evaluates the ecological footprint of a life cycle of a good or a service as the cumulative area needed to embed the impact of all material flows induced by it sustainably into the biosphere (Krotscheck and Narodoslawsky, 1996). The results show the ecological footprint of different types of food and energy crops. Depending on the product and the applied agricultural production system (e.g. organic farming, conventional farming), different factors dominate the ecological pressure, such as fertilizers, pesticides (for most conventional farming crops), machine hours (for many organic farming crops) and energy use. The interpretation of the results points out where to intervene in order to reduce the ecological footprint within the production systems. Taking these results into account will help to guide optimization of life cycles within the framework of a sustainable Bio-Economy.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationComputer Aided Chemical Engineering
ISBN (Electronic)978-044463428-3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016

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