Weik, Jan

Empowering farmers as ecosystem managers to actively shape the sustainable intensification of agriculture requires readily available quantitative data of their farm’s environmental performance. More importantly, this data should be available without much effort. While LCA has high access barriers (i.e. cost, knowledge, data availability), we recommend to leverage the increasing digitalisation of agricultural enterprises to lower these access barriers and provide farmers with automated LCA results. In this research, readily available data streams within the German agricultural sector were collated with the data requirements of agricultural LCA. First, mandatory reporting obligations based on EU and national regulations were reviewed, as well as voluntary reporting schemes. Considering three farming business units (i.e. livestock, arable farming, bioenergy), the identified data points were categorized into the dichotomy of life cycle inventories (LCI): Inputs and Outputs. Then, the data requirements of agricultural LCA were established with respect to specific requirements for 18 midpoint impact categories (ReCiPe 2016). Finally, the two input-output catalogues were analysed side by side to illustrate opportunities to automate data acquisition, and to identify data availability gaps. Agricultural enterprises in Germany face detailed reporting requirements. Especially the fertilizer and pesticide use is documented in detail per field and crop. Livestock production require detailed documentation of herd and manure management. On-farm bioenergy plants document feedstock and energy generation. Already today, farm documentation software could incorporate LCA results for products and the entire organisation. By adding only few data points to the mandatory reporting requirements, the data accuracy could be increased. Also, impact categories like biodiversity and soil quality could be included.