A study of changes in energy consumption trend and environmental indicators in the production of agricultural crops using a life cycle assessment approach in the years 2018-2022
In today's world, the escalating environmental crises and growing demand for natural resources have underscored the importance of evaluating the entire life cycle of products and their production processes. The primary objective of this approach is to enhance the sustainability of products and their production processes by minimizing environmental effects and optimizing resource consumption. By employing life cycle assessment, one can effectively plan and optimize products and services, minimize adverse impacts on the environment, and boost profitability. To conduct a life cycle assessment, it is essential to utilize accepted methods such as the ISO 14040 standard. Additionally, computational analysis and evaluation should be carried out at each stage of the life cycle. This study focuses on examining the various stages of the life cycle of specific products and evaluating their energy consumption over a 5-year period. Additionally, it investigates energy trends and various environmental impacts associated with these products, while also offering potential solutions to mitigate them. Furthermore, the study aims to rank secondary products (wheat, canola, and sunflower) based on their energy consumption and environmental impacts.
This research was conducted in Khuzestan province, Shushtar city, Shoaibieh region, Imam Khomeini Sugarcane Agro-Industrial Company, one of the important agriculture and industries in Iran. To gather data on the production status of agricultural and industrial products between 2018 and 2022, a series of steps were taken. Initially, experts in the field were interviewed to gather their insights on the topic. These interviews were conducted through specially designed questionnaires. Throughout the research process, various sources of information in the field of agriculture were utilized, including agriculture and industry planning management statistics and energy balance sheets. These sources provided the necessary data to analyze and evaluate the production status of agricultural and industrial products. The primary focus of this research was on sugarcane, which serves as the main product of cultivation and industry. Additionally, during the cropping season, other crops such as wheat, canola, and sunflower were cultivated, resulting in increased productivity and efficient use of land and resources.
The results indicated an increase in energy consumption in the cultivation of sugarcane, wheat, canola, and sunflower. Specifically, the energy consumption in sugarcane farms ranged from 131.05 to 161.71 GJ ha-1 during the study period. The energy consumption for by-products also showed an upward trend. Furthermore, the study found that the highest environmental pollution from resource usage in sugarcane production occurred in the respective years, with values ranging from 12.08 to 12.91 USD2013. Similar increases were observed in wheat, canola, and sunflower production. Among the by-products, sunflower ranked highest, followed by wheat and canola. Electricity inputs, diesel fuel, and chemical fertilizers were identified as significant contributors to energy consumption and pollution.
The research findings emphasize the significance of optimizing input usage and reducing consumption to address environmental pollution. One effective solution to tackle the rising energy consumption in agricultural production is the adoption of renewable energy sources, such as solar-generated electricity through photovoltaic systems. Implementing these systems can result in decreased energy consumption and a subsequent reduction in the environmental impact. Furthermore, the integration of new technologies can help minimize reliance on non-renewable energy sources like diesel fuel. These initiatives not only contribute to lower energy consumption and reduced environmental pollutants but also have the potential to improve overall air quality. Ultimately, the utilization of renewable energy sources and the incorporation of clean and sustainable technologies play a pivotal role in mitigating environmental impacts associated with agricultural product production, ultimately benefiting the environment.