Increased food production and the impact of climate change has focused attention on the environmental impact of land use. The conflicting need to provide food, fibre and fuel, for an increasing population, can have unintended consequences for sustainable production, greenhouse gas emissions and pollution. These problems, and possible solutions, are best understood by quantifying the environmental impact of production.
Our work uses different, but complimentary, methods of environmental accounting, for example, life cycle assessment, carbon footprinting (PAS2050), water footprinting, mass and energy balances to describe and quantify the environmental impacts of crop production systems. The results provide a baseline for future investigation and allow the inputs, and burdens, of production to be understood.
Recent work has included:
• Environmental footprinting (carbon and water footprints plus an assessment of pesticide toxicity, eutrophication and acidification) of selected arable and horticultural crops.
• Water footprinting of agricultural products and an assessment of the effect that UK agricultural has on water resources.
• Greenhouse gas assessment of growing media materials.
• Mass balance of nitrogen in the UK.
Contact: Rob Lillywhite