Orphant, Simon (2004) Life cycle assessment of the production of raw milk. [USQ Project] (Unpublished)
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The environmental impacts and the sustainable development of agricultural activities have been identified as a significant national issue. This has led to many techniques in quantifying the impact of agricultural activities on the surrounding environment. One such technique used is Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). This project presents an initial assessment of the life cycle environmental impacts of a simple dairy farm in Southeast Queensland, Australia, using the most appropriate software (SimaPro5.1). Recently, the perception of environmental management has shifted away from the prescriptive approach of fixing a problem after it has occurred. This change in attitude has led to the development of the preventative approach. This involves stoping the system before it causes impact. LCA has been created for the specific application of testing and comparing systems to find the best outcome for the environment. The methodology involves four steps: Defining the Goal and Scope of the Assessment, Life Cycle Inventory Analysis, Life Cycle Impact Assessment and Life Cycle Interpretation. PRe Consultants based in the Netherlands produced the Life Cycle Assessment software SimaPro5.1. The assessment program was originally used for assessing and comparing industrial systems. In the late 90's SimaPro was adapted for the use on agricultural systems. This has led to much research into the agricultural industries in Australia. Most research has found the need for updated Australian databases in the program so that results are quantified with respect to Australia. The scope of this project was only looking at the effects of the agricultural system. Thus, the model was setup to show the effects of producing one litre of milk at the farm gate. Results have indicated that the major impacts to the environment occur during the pasture production phase. The impact during the pasture production phase is largely due to the usage of fertilizers and the irrigation pump being driven by electricity. Other substantial impacts in the system were the environmental impact to climate change produced by methane outputs from the cow.
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