Quantification of agricultural productivity in environmental sustainability assessments: methodological developments and case studies

Van linden, V. (Copromotor)

    Activiteit: OverigeAndere soorten (prijzen, externe en andere activiteiten) - (Co)promotor doctoraatsthesis


    The rising demand for food and feed has put an increasing pressure on agriculture, with agricultural intensification as a direct response. This contributes to a higher crop productivity. However, intensive agricultural practices entail adverse environmental impacts because they take a huge toll on land resources and soil quality, and so they can compromise the ability to produce biomass in the long term. In the transition towards sustainable agriculture, a thoughtful selection of farm management practices that are environmentally sound and yet secure food production is required. Evaluations of environmental sustainability are increasingly based on life cycle assessments (LCAs). However, difficulties and gaps exist when conducting an agricultural LCA. The aims of this thesis were to gain a better understanding and to develop methodologies to cope with these challenges.
    A first complexity is the large variability among agricultural systems. The main drivers causing variability and the extent to which this variability affects the environmental performance have been explored. Second, a framework with proper indicators is proposed to account for the impact of land use practices on soil quality and long-term productivity, aspects that were rather poorly addressed in LCA up to now. Finally, an approach is developed to not only account in LCA for the yield but for a range of ecosystem services delivered by an agro-ecosystem. This approach allows to fairly compare the environmental sustainability of organic and conventional food production systems.
    The findings of this thesis enable to more correctly evaluate the environmental sustainability of agricultural practices, which is an important asset in stimulating sustainable farming.

    Dagelijkse begeleiding Lieselot Boone bij haar doctoraatsonderzoek
    Gehouden opUGent, Faculteit Bio-Ingenieurswetenschappen, Vakgroep EnVoc, België
    Mate van erkenningInternationaal