Student Perspective: LCA & Economics

Student Perspective: LCA & Economics

Following yesterday’s post about the CREATE-CSS Annual Meeting: Climate-Smart Connections, today we are sharing a student’s reflection on the Life Cycle Analysis and Economics session. Emily Laage, an MSc student studying with Dr. Peter Tyedmers at Dalhousie University, presented during this session, along with two of her undergraduate labmates (Sage Mosgrove and Anne-Overgaard Thomson) and an MSc student from the University of Guelph. Keep reading for Emily’s summary, including an infographic.

Reflecting on Climate-Smart Connections
By: Emily Laage, Dalhousie University

The 2021 Climate Smart Soils Conference was an awesome display of CREATE-CSS scholars’ current and upcoming research projects centered around soil, climate, and agricultural impacts. One section of the conference, “Life Cycle Analysis & Economics”, showed how our projects are closely related and how the results could benefit one another’s research.

Anne and Sage presented their ongoing undergraduate thesis work on the role of geography in agricultural life cycle assessments (LCA). They noted that geography is a clear limitation of LCA studies. However, food system impacts often vary by location and thus this variable should be more widely considered. Anne and Sage are looking to investigate the influence of geography on the contribution of agricultural subsystems and analyze the variability of greenhouse gas emissions by regions. The study undertaken by Emily and colleagues seeks to build upon this idea and fill in the gap of Anne and Sage’s project by studying how geography, or eco-regions, could affect greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on organic field crop farms in Canada. Furthermore, Emily’s study will also examine variables such as technology, management practices, and farmer characteristics and their possible relationship with greenhouse gas intensity. In addition to these variables, this nation-wide study will seek to quantify the net life cycle GHG emissions of organic field crops in Canada. This is an understudied area, especially in Canada, due to the heterogeneity of organic practices. Data from the third study, undertaken by Dan, could help to inform Emily’s project by providing information on soil quality and crop rotations. Dan is looking at the optimal sequential crop choices for soil management by seeking to determine which crop rotations are the most profitable and what incentives for emissions reduction will motivate a change in crop rotation. Dan noted that the diversity of crops in Ontario is decreasing due to the high profitability of corn and soy. These simplified crop rotations have thus led to a decrease in soil quality.

While these three studies may use different methodologies or be undertaken in different geographies, their results are integral and could provide important information not only to each other, but to the scientific community as a whole.

Infographic summarizing and connecting the presentations during the LCA & Economics session. By Emily Laage.

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