Meat consumption and water scarcity: Beware of generalizations

ArticleinJournal of Cleaner Production 28:127-133 · June 2012with 1,124 Reads 
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  • ... The livestock sector is attributed a very important part of the WF generated by agriculture, it has been estimated that approximately 30% of the WF of agriculture is directly related to the livestock sector Schlink et al., 2010). In this way, numerous researchers have reported the volume of water consumed and/or contaminated by various livestock production systems, identifying in all of them that the production of fodder for livestock feed is one of the activities with the greatest impact, highlighting the reports by Chapagain and Hoekstra, 2003;Gerbens-Leenes et al., 2013Hoekstra, 2010c;Mekonnen and Hoekstra, 2012;Ridoutt et al., 2012a;Ridoutt et al., 2010; among many others. According to FAO (2019), during 2012, 37% of the cereals produced in the world were destined for livestock feed. ...
    Thesis
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    The world population has increased to almost 8,000 million people, which suggests increases in the demand and consumption of products of animal origin, causing greater pressure on the use of water resources and increases in the emission of greenhouse gases (EGHG). The objective of this research was to quantify the environmental impact (EI) and economic impact (EcI) of the carbon footprint (CP) and water footprint (WP) as indicators of sustainability of ruminant production systems (RPS) during the period 1994-2018. The investigation was carried out in northern Mexico, in the Comarca Lagunera (CL, 102º 22 '& 104º 47' W, 24º 22 '& 26º 23' N), an arid region with annual averages of rainfall less than 240 mm, although it is very important in livestock production in the country. The quantification of the EI in WP only considered the calculation of the use of blue water (BWF). The CP considered the IPCC methodology for the livestock and agriculture subcategories. The calculation of the economic value (EV) of BWF considered the average international water price, while the CP considered an international average price of the carbon credits. The economic value of RPS (Dairy cattle, Beef cattle and Goats) was determined based on its gross production value (GPV). In 2018, the CL recorded a ruminant inventory of 1,163,046 heads, with 350,280 heads in production, generating 2,503.50 million liters of milk with a total of 676,769 slaughtered heads, and a yield of 83,716 tons of meat. This production of milk and meat represented 99,538 tons of protein. When comparing the annual average of the GPV-RPS of 651.41 M€ (11,754.89 MMXP) regarding the EV-BWF of 11,602.82 M€ (209,377.59 MMXP) added to the EV-CF of 330.71 M€(5,967.79 MMXP) a significant EI and EcI is observed from RPS, especially those generated by the dairy and beef cattle systems, with a negligible impact of the goat system. The GPV-RPS represented 5.46% of the EV of the WF plus the CF [11,933.53 M€ (215.345.38 MMXP)]. Therefore, it is fundamental to delineate and adopt mitigation strategies in the management of RPS with respect to water use and EGHG. These strategies must considerer the characteristics of each species of ruminant and they will be essential to achieve the sustainability not only of the RPS, but also the ecological, economic and social viability of the CL itself.
  • ... The WF of livestock is strongly influenced by the place and system of production 420 (Ridoutt et al., 2012). Gerbens Leenes et al. (2013) found that the WF of pork varies 421 widely across countries because of the large differences in the composition of pig feed, 422 making it difficult to draw general conclusions regarding industrial versus extensive freshwater use associated with the production of concentrated feed. ...
    Article
    Around 92% of the humanity's footprint (WF) relates to the agricultural sector, and a considerable proportion of this is associated with animal farming. In Spain, the swine sector accounts for 11% of agricultural output in economic terms and makes substantial demands on freshwater resources. In this study we estimate the WF of the Spanish pig sector at an average 19.5 billion m3/yr (82% green, 8% blue, 10% grey) over the period 2001–08. During this period the WF increased by 23%, due to growing exports. About half the water needed to produce concentrate feed comes from Spain, with the remaining 50% embodied in imported feedstock products. When comparing the blue and grey WFs of feed production in the source regions with indicators of water scarcity and water pollution, we find that most of the feed produced in Spain, unlike that imported, comes from watersheds where freshwater resources are overexploited. The evaluation of the WF of four different pig production systems shows that pigs raised in extensive systems have the largest WF per tonne of live animal. However, water pollution is a particular problem in industrial systems given the high geographical concentration of animals. The swine sector is one of the largest consumers of natural resources in Spain and should, therefore, be an important focal point in agricultural, environmental and water policies.
  • ... An increasingly important reason for rising food demand is per capita consumption, as a result of rising per capita income, which is marked by shifts towards high protein foods, particularly meat (Ehrlich and Harte 2015b). This trend creates further pressures on the food supply chain, since animal-based production systems generally require disproportionately more resources, both in water consumption and feed inputs (Rask and Rask 2011;Ridoutt et al. 2012;Xue and Landis 2010). Even though the rate of increasing food demand has declined in recent decades, if current trajectories in population growth and dietary shifts are realistic, global demand for agricultural products will grow at 1.1-1.5% per year until 2050 (Alexandratos and Bruinsma 2012). ...
    Chapter
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    Hydroponics initially developed in arid regions in response to freshwater shortages, while in areas with poor soil, it was viewed as an opportunity to increase productivity with fewer fertilizer inputs. In the 1950s, recirculating aquaculture also emerged in response to similar water limitations in arid regions in order to make better use of available water resources and better contain wastes. However, disposal of sludge from such systems remained problematic, thus leading to the advent of aquaponics, wherein the recycling of nutrients produced by fish as fertilizer for plants proved to be an innovative solution to waste discharge that also had economic advantages by producing a second marketable product. Aquaponics was also shown to be an adaptable and cost-effective technology given that farms could be situated in areas that are otherwise unsuitable for agriculture, for instance, on rooftops and on unused, derelict factory sites. A wide range of cost savings could be achieved through strategic placement of aquaponics sites to reduce land acquisition costs, and by also allowing farming closer to suburban and urban areas, thus reducing transportation costs to markets and hence also the fossil fuel and CO2 footprints of production.
  • ... Total virtual water content in each MSW component includes accumulative water use in all processes. Although the process analysis method inevitably has some deviations with actual results deriving from the neglect of some inputs and scattered water intensity data support (Chapagain and Hoekstra, 2003;Ridoutt et al., 2012), the accounting is based on the same local standards of water use which can ensure consistency of data sources, it can meet the data accuracy requirement of discovering the potential of virtual water saving of MSW recycling and analyzing temporal variation and structure of virtual water content of MSW. ...
  • ... Water footprints that include all green water resources, however, have been criticized for generalizing water requirements when summing all three water resources into a single final water footprint value (Ridoutt and Huang, 2012;Ridoutt et al., 2012b;Perry et al., 2013;Perry, 2014). Critics argue that consumers are faced with a measure that provides no information on whether a product has a large water footprint due to its high blue CWU, its high green CWU, or assumptions about its severe impact on water pollution. ...
  • ... Les évaluations les plus récentes, comme celles de Ridoutt et al (2012b) sont fondées sur la consommation d'eau bleue conduisant à une réduction de l'eau douce disponible, ce qui signifie par exemple que l'eau ingérée par les ruminants mais retournant à la ferme (environ 50% de l'eau de boisson, sous forme d'urine) est exclue du calcul de la consommation d'eau. Quelques approches ACV incluent l'eau grise (Ridoutt et Pfister 2012), mais la majorité des auteurs considèrent le plus souvent que la pollution de l'eau ne peut être prise en compte que par d'autres indicateurs d'impact, tels que l'écotoxicité aquatique (liée à la pollution par les constituants organiques de synthèse et les métaux lourds) et le potentiel d'eutrophisation (lié essentiellement aux nitrates et aux phosphates). ...
    Article
    Water scarcity, a function of supply and demand, is a regional issue with global repercussions, given that i) the increasing human population and demand for animal products will increase water demand and that ii) global climate change is altering rainfall patterns worldwide. Water can be divided into “blue” (surface and groundwater), “green” (soil water subject to evapotranspiration) and “grey” water (water necessary to dilute pollutants to acceptable levels). On a global scale, agriculture represents 70% of blue water use. One main difference among all methods for assessing water use is whether and how they include green and grey water with blue water. The “water footprint” approach includes green and grey water, whereas life cycle assessment approaches tend to exclude them or to include only the variation in green water availability resulting from land use change. A second difference is whether water use is reported as a volume of water (L) or a volume weighted by a water stress index (L water equivalents). Because of these differences and the few livestock systems studied, methods give wildly different results for the same livestock product. Ultimately, water scarcity depends on blue water use. The contribution of livestock to water scarcity can be reduced by decreasing their water consumption and/or that of the irrigated crops they consume.
  • ... The concept of virtual water was first introduced by Allan (1993) in context of the water scarcity in the Middle East to indicate water required for the agricultural product, and then widely employed to stand for the volume of water used in the production of a commodity or service (Chapagain and Hoekstra, 2008;Ridoutt et al., 2012;Wang et al., 2013). Virtual water is the water embodied in the supply chain of a product, not merely in a physical sense. ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    Virtual water consumption accounting for an entire building construction engineering project including nine sub-projects is presented in this study to reveal the full picture of water consumption in building construction engineering. With the most comprehensive first-hand project data, this study is the first attempt to quantify a whole engineering project's virtual water consumption to the best of our knowledge. As numerous works have been undertaken for on-site water conservation in buildings, further efforts should be devoted to assessing water embodied in the construction process and intermediate material inputs. This research selects the construction engineering of a cluster of landmark commercial buildings in Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area as a case study and derives more than 1000 items of first-hand project data from the Bill of Quantities. Based on the standard building construction classification, the total virtual water consumption of the nine sub-projects is quantified as 1.92E+06 m3, almost 24 times as much as the on-site water consumption. As the dominant sub-project, Structure and outside decoration engineering contributes more than half of the total water consumption. Fully considering the direct and indirect water embodied in the construction engineering, building materials, in particular steel, cement, lime, and metal products, contribute to more than 3/4 the total water consumption. As the virtual water consumption of China's annual increased building areas reaches 1/4 the direct national water consumption, both direct and indirect water consumed in the process of building construction should gain full attention.
  • ... There is strong evidence that water crisis worsens as climate change increases [17]. In spite of the water scarcity in homes, the agricultural sector concentrates almost 80% of world water consumption [18]; additionally, important amounts of water are also consumed in the production of meat and dairy products [19]. For those reasons, wastewater treatment is vital nowadays in order to avoid water shortages that have prevented economic growth in many countries around the world [20]. ...
  • ... Previous Australian sheep LCA have typically been single impact studies (GHG or water) for a single case study farm (CSF) or a small number of farms, producing predominantly Merino wool-meat sheep (Eady et al. 2012;Brock et al. 2013). Only one study (Ridoutt et al. 2012) investigated prime lamb production and this covered water only, using a case study approach. Peters et al. (2010aPeters et al. ( , 2010bPeters et al. ( , 2011 performed the only multi-impact study but this covered only one farm in Western Australia (WA) producing lamb for domestic consumption. ...
    Article
    This study conducted a life cycle assessment (LCA) investigating energy, land occupation, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, fresh water consumption and stress-weighted water use from production of export lamb in the major production regions of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. The study used data from regional datasets and case study farms, and applied new methods for assessing water use using detailed farm water balances and water stress weighting. Land occupation was assessed with reference to the proportion of arable and non-arable land and allocation of liveweight (LW) and greasy wool was handled using a protein mass method. Fossil fuel energy demand ranged from 2.5 to 7.0 MJ/kg LW, fresh water consumption from 58.1 to 238.9 L/kg LW, stress-weighted water use from 2.9 to 137.8 L H2O-e/kg LW and crop land occupation from 0.2 to 2.0 m2/kg LW. Fossil fuel energy demand was dominated by on-farm energy demand, and differed between regions and datasets in response to production intensity and the use of purchased inputs such as fertiliser. Regional fresh water consumption was dominated by irrigation water use and losses from farm water supply, with smaller contributions from livestock drinking water. GHG emissions ranged from 6.1 to 7.3 kg CO2-e/kg LW and additional removals or emissions from land use (due to cultivation and fertilisation) and direct land-use change (due to deforestation over previous 20 years) were found to be modest, contributing between -1.6 and 0.3 kg CO2-e/kg LW for different scenarios assessing soil carbon flux. Excluding land use and direct land-use change, enteric CH4 contributed 83-89% of emissions, suggesting that emissions intensity can be reduced by focussing on flock production efficiency. Resource use and emissions were similar for export lamb production in the major production states of Australia, and GHG emissions were similar to other major global lamb producers. The results show impacts from lamb production on competitive resources to be low, as lamb production systems predominantly utilised non-arable land unsuited to alternative food production systems that rely on crop production, and water from regions with low water stress.
  • ... A third factor, related to the rising living standards, is the dietary shift towards a higher calorific intake of (water-intensive) animal-based products. These impacts will be determined by meat production systems, which are very heterogeneous both in farm practice and in geography (Steinfeld, Mooney, Schneider, & Neville, 2010;Thornton & Herrero, 2010), and whose sustainability varies greatly with the production system (Ridoutt, Sanguansri, Nolan, & Marks, 2012). The fourth factor driving a future increase of water demand in MENA is the expected impact of climate change on the region's water resources and agricultural land, which will affect not only the agricultural sector (with changes in precipitation, temperature, and evapotranspiration rates) but also the function and operation of existing infrastructure, such as hydropower, drainage and irrigation systems (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2008). ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    The purpose of this study is to analyze the political economy of food-water security in the water-scarce Middle East and North Africa region. The study deploys the lens of virtual water trade to determine how the region's economies have met their rising food-water requirements over the past three decades. It is shown that the region's water and food security currently depend to a considerable extent on water from outside the region, ‘embedded’ in food imports and accessed through trade. The analysis includes blue (surface and groundwater) and green water resources.
  • ... Nevertheless, given the large range of rainfall values found along Chile's agricultural region, the use of a countrywide average value is highly questionable. Even then, and as pointed out by Ridoutt et al. (2012aRidoutt et al. ( , 2012b and Zonderland-Thomassen et al. (2014), the present results clearly show that extensive, grassland based animal sheep production do not impact water scarcity to any significant extent. Fig. 6. ...
    Article
    Central Chile has a semi-arid, Mediterranean-type climate, characterized by mild temperatures and irregular and unreliable winter rainfall. Meat sheep production managed in extensive systems is an important agricultural activity of the area. A dynamic, stochastic, simulation sheep model was developed with the objective of assessing the water footprint of extensive lamb production in relation to factorial combinations of annual rainfall, stocking rate, and rate of supplementation of ewes and lambs. The simulation model includes two sub models that estimate grass and lamb growth respectively. The model allows estimation of the water footprint of sheep production, its partitioning into green-blue-grey water, and of tradeoffs in physical outputs. Dry (424 mm) and very dry (380 mm) years occurred in 40% of cases reported for the 1972–2014 period. Green, blue and grey water footprints were significantly affected by the variables studied. The lowest water footprint was found in average years (702 mm; 5369 L·kg of LW−1 sold) and increased to 7741 L·kg of LW−1 sold in dry years when ewes were supplemented with grain. Numerous significant interactions between yearly rainfall and feeding strategies were found that are indicative of the management challenges faced by the system. The simulation model proved to be a powerful tool to examine a variety of climatic and production scenarios in order to infer possible future trends in response to climate change and production strategies.
  • ... To better assess the impacts and allow comparability among different WFs, some authors have suggested that water footprints be weighted by a scarcity factor (Ridoutt et al.,2011), in accordance with Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology (Koehler, 2008). Several indexes have been proposed to this end. ...
  • ... Household changes in consumption of the crop and animal products have significant reduction of water and carbon footprint (RIDOUTT, et al., 2012;STOESSEL, et al., 2012;CAZCARRO, et al., 2012). ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    A comprehensive understanding of the link between water footprint and energy content of crop and animal products is vitally important for the sound management of water resources. In this study, we developed a mathematical relationship between water content, and energy content of many crops and animal products by using an improved LCA approach (water footprint). The standard values of the water and energy contents of crops and animal products were obtained from the databases of Agricultural Research Service, UNESCO Institute for water education and Food, and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The water footprint approach was applied to analyze the relationship between water requirement and energy of content of crop and animal products, in which the uncertainty and sensitivity was evaluated by Monte Carlo simulation technique that is contained in the Oracle Crystal Ball Fusion Edition v11.1.1.3.00. The results revealed significant water saving due to changes in food consumption pattern i.e. from consumption of more meat to vegetables. The production of 1kcal of crop and animal products requires about 98% of green, 4.8% blue water and 0.4% of gray water. In which changes in consumption pattern gave annual blue water saving of about 1605 Mm3 that is equivalent to 41.30m3/capita, extremely greater than the standard drinking water requirement for the whole population. Moreover, the projected results indicated, triple increase of dietary water requirement from 30.9 Mm3 in 2005 to 108 Mm3 by 2050. It was also inferred that, Tanzania has a positive virtual water balance of crop and animal products consumption with net virtual water import of 9.1 Mm3 that is the contribution margin to the water scarcity alleviation strategy. Therefore, developed relationship of water footprint and energy content of crops and animal products can be used by water resource experts for sustainable freshwater and food supply.
  • ... The approach of Hoekstra and Chapagain, to include all water, is widely applied, but it has several limitations. For instance, it has been criticized for making generalizations about water resource use (Perry, 2014;Ridoutt, Sanguansri, Nolan and Marks, 2011), and a better approach for freshwater appropriation in biomass systems may be required Pfister, 2010, 2013). Others argue that only liquid freshwater appropriation is important, because this is what has trade-off value for alternative uses. ...
  • ... All LCA approaches include blue water (e.g., irrigation), and the most recent (e.g., Ridoutt et al., 2011) focus on consumption of blue water leading to freshwater depletion, meaning that water ingested by livestock but returned to the same location (e.g., as urine) is excluded from the total water use. In contrast, few LCA approaches include gray water, most considering that it is already addressed in the LCA impact indicators for aquatic toxicity (related to pesticide and heavy-metal emissions) and potential eutrophication (related to nitrate and phosphate emissions, among others). ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    • Water scarcity, a function of supply and demand, is a regional issue with global repercussions, given that 1) the increasing human population and demand for animal products will increase water demand and influence international trade in agricultural products and that 2) global climate change is altering rainfall patterns worldwide. • Water can be divided into the following types: blue (i.e., surface and groundwater), green (i.e., soil water used in evapotranspiration), and gray (i.e., water necessary to dilute pollutants). On a global scale, agriculture represents 70% of blue water use. • One main difference among all methods for assessing water use is whether and how they include green and gray water. The "water footprint" approach includes green water, whereas life cycle assessment approaches tend to exclude green water or to include only the variation in green water resulting from changes in land use. A second difference is whether water use is reported as a volume of water or as an index of water-use impact (e.g., H2O equivalents). A third is whether water that returns to the same location (e.g., in urine) is considered to have been consumed. • Because of these differences and the fact that existing studies have analyzed only a limited number of different livestock production systems, methods give wildly different results for the same livestock product. For example, estimations of water use to produce 1 kg of beef range from 3 to 540 L of H2O or H2O equivalents for the life cycle assessment approach and from 10,000 to 200,000 L of H2O for the water footprint. • Ultimately, water scarcity depends on blue water use. Decreasing the contribution of livestock to water scarcity can be achieved by decreasing feed irrigation. Livestock farming also has positive impacts on the environment related to water use.
  • ... As populations in water scarce regions, such as Australia continue to grow, governments should, morally and ethically cut these deficits by shifting water to grow food for people not livestock. Instead, the livestock megamachine continues to promote itself through highly selective data, incomplete life cycle assessment-based methodologies and deceptive analysis (Ridoutt et al., 2011). As the calls for reducing meat consumption gather momentum, we are likely to see more and more of such behaviour which strongly resembles climate change scepticism. ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    It is morally impossible to justify the power wielded by the livestock industry. This paper describes the human, ecological and animal welfare concerns caused by excessive meat production and consumption, including climate change, water depletion and degradation, land misappropriation and degradation, rainforest destruction, biodiversity and rapid species loss and the significant threats and challenges presented to human health and wellbeing. It offers flexitarianism (flexible or part-time vegetarianism) as a personal opportunity and moral responsibility to combat the destructive duplicity of the global livestock megamachine. Through personal nutritional paradigm shifts and the resulting food choices, individuals can reclaim the possibility of a more sustainable world and global society.
  • ... The water scarcity footprint of Australian lamb produced in Victoria (589 L H 2 O-eq/kg LW in Ridoutt et al., 2012b) was higher than the NZ weighted average water scarcity footprint of lamb (0.18 L H 2 O-eq/kg LW after normalisation using the global WSI of 0.602 for comparability), which was mainly influenced by the local water scarcity in the Australian regions where farming and feedlot operations occurred. In the Australian system, there was no irrigation of pasture or crops fed directly and only minor irrigation was used on some concentrate ingredients fed in the feedlot. ...
    Article
    There is increasing recognition of the tension between livestock production and freshwater availability. Changes in freshwater availability can be generated by both freshwater consumptive and freshwater degradative use. Agriculture is a major water user, and beef cattle and sheep farming is an important agricultural activity in New Zealand (NZ). This study assessed potential environmental impacts associated with water use in beef cattle and sheep farming in NZ, following a water footprint method compliant with life cycle assessment principles with a focus on the water scarcity footprint and eutrophication potential (EP) impacts. The life cycle required for the production of beef cattle and sheep was analysed cradle-to-farm-gate, excluding animal transport or processing. Survey data from Beef and Lamb New Zealand for the year 2009/10 were used to cover a range of beef cattle and sheep farm types throughout NZ (426 farms averaged in seven farm classes), and water scarcity footprint and EP weighted averages were calculated for beef cattle and sheep. The normalised NZ weighted average water scarcity footprint of beef cattle of 0.37 L H2O-eq/kg LW was lower than the published normalised values for the water scarcity footprint of beef cattle produced in Australia (3.3-221 L H2O-eq/kg LW) and in the UK. Also, the NZ weighted average water scarcity footprint of sheep of 0.26 L H2O-eq/kg meat (assuming that 40% LW was converted into meat) was lower than the water scarcity footprint of sheep meat reported for the UK (8.4-23.1 L H2O/kg meat).
  • ... Se ha calculado que alrededor del 30% de la HH de la agricultura se encuentra directamente relacionada con la elaboración de productos ganaderos (Schlink et al., 2010;. De esta forma, son numerosos los estudios que han cuantificado el volumen de agua consumida o contaminada por diversas especies ganaderas, identificándose en todos ellos que la elaboración de su alimentación es una de las actividades con mayor impacto (Chapagain & Hoekstra, 2003;Hoekstra, 2010;Ridoutt et al., 2012;Gerbens-Leenes et al., 2013). Según documenta la FAO (2012), el 37% de los cereales producidos en el mundo son destinados a la alimentación animal. ...
    Thesis
    Full-text available
    The current development model, which is based on the overexploitation of natural resources, environmental degradation and social exclusion, must change into a more sustainable economy. It should also ensure human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. Water, one of the most essential component for ecosystem functioning and human well being, plays a key role to reach this sustainable development. The use of environmental indicators, as the water footprint, could be a good tool to assess the human activities impacts on the water resources. It also involves managers, decision makers and the society as a whole in an integrated water resources management. Water footprint is defined as the volume of freshwater consumed or polluted during the elaboration of a product, activity or service in a certain area and at a given time. It incorporates direct and indirect water usage in three components: green, blue and grey water. In this dissertation, the use of the water footprint indicator as an information source for a better water management is evaluated. Also, the usefulness of the water footprint to communicate the environmental sustainably of different products, processes and services has been discussed. For this purpose, the methodology proposed by the Water Footprint Network has been implemented in two case studies: the agriculture in the Duero river basin, and the Spanish pork industry. To simulate the volume of water consumed and polluted by agriculture in the Duero river basin, the CWUModel was developed. By distinguishing between rainfed and irrigated crops, the model is able to separate the use of green and blue water components of the water footprint. The first represents the rainwater stored as soil moisture and the second the irrigation water abstracted from rivers, lakes or aquifers. Using a N-leaching regression model, it has been possible to simulate the grey water component, defined as the volumen of water needed to assimilate the leaching of nitrogen application as fertilizer. Thanks to the spatial analysis, blue water footprint has also been compared with the monthly water availability in the river basin, identifying the actual and future water stress level in differents areas. By incorporating economic criteria in the water footprint assessment, it has also estimated the water and land apparent productivity in agriculture. Finally, a sensitivity analisis was developed to evaluate the effect of the uncertainty in the sources of information used on the predictions of the model. The water footprint of the Spanish pork industry was estimated taking into account the major production ways: the industrial production systems of white pig and stabled Iberian pork, and the extensive production systems of Iberian pork, “montanera” and “recebo”. Since most of the water footprint of this sector results from animal feeding, special attention has been paid to identifying and quantifying the associated virtual water flows. A sustainability assesment of these virtual water flows has been developed through a comparison with other water scarcity and pollution indicators in the origin watershed. In this way, it was possible to identify the hotspot, i.e. flows that can be translated to an unsustainable use of water resources in the origin basin. Since the most common way to manage the pig slurry is by its application as a fertilizer in agriculture, an assessment of the grey water footprint of nitrogen leaching has also been developed. According to the results of this and other studies, it can be concluded that a comprehensive assessment of the water footprint -expressed disaggregated into its three components and compared with other environmental and socio-economic indicators- offers a comprehensive view of the exerted pressures and impacts on water resources, thus helping the society to understand the interconnection of the water cycle at different scales.
  • ... In Australia, a series of studies investigating regional or national livestock production systems, using broadly comparable methods, have been completed by the authors and others. These studies include regional beef and lamb production (Ridoutt et al., 2012; Wiedemann et al., 2015b) and pork production (Wiedemann et al., 2016a). These studies provide a regional knowledge base for understanding the environmental impact of Australian meat production, but there is a need for more studies focussing on poultry production. ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    Agri-food industries such as chicken meat production face increasing pressure to quantify and improve their environmental performance over time, while simultaneously increasing production to meet global demand. Using life cycle assessment, this study aimed to quantify resource use, environmental impacts and hotspots for Australian chicken meat production using updated inventories and new methods. Two contrasting states; Queensland, and South Australia, and two housing systems; conventional and free range were analysed to indicate the variation expected between regions and systems. Lower impacts were observed per kilogram of chicken meat produced in South Australia compared to Queensland for fossil fuel energy, greenhouse gas (including land use and direct land use change) and fresh water consumption (18.1 and 21.4 MJ, 2.2 and 3.4 kg CO2-e, 38 and 111 L respectively), but not arable land or stress weighted water use (22.5 and 14 m2, 36 and 21 L H2O-e respectively). Feed production was the largest contributor to all impact categories, and also showed the largest variation between regions, highlighting the importance of spatially specific feed grain datasets to determine resource use and greenhouse gas from chicken meat production. While feed conversion ratio was lower in South Australia, this was found to be less significant than differences related to crop yield, irrigation water use and the use of imported feed ingredients, suggesting that incremental improvements in feed conversion ratio will result in lower impacts only when feed inputs and production systems do not change. Fresh water consumption was lower in South Australia, but did not correlate with stress weighed water use (lower in Queensland) highlighting that volumetric water use measures is not a reliable indicator of the impact of water use. We did not observe substantial differences between conventional and free range production when feed related differences were removed, because key productivity factors such as feed conversion ratio were similar between the two housing types in Australia. While results were found to vary between regions, total greenhouse gas emissions were low from these Australian supply chains, and resource use was moderate. Expansion of the study to include additional regions and impact categories is recommended in future benchmarking studies.
  • ... The concept of virtual water was first introduced by Allan (1993) in context of the water scarcity in the Middle East to indicate water required for the agricultural product, and then widely employed to stand for the volume of water used in the production of a commodity or service (Chapagain and Hoekstra, 2008;Ridoutt et al., 2012;Wang et al., 2013). Virtual water is the water embodied in the supply chain of a product, not merely in a physical sense. ...
  • ... Additionally, it is possible to consider the impact of blue water use at the local level using Life Cycle Assessment-based methods that include relative blue water scarcity (Hess et al., 2016;Ridoutt et al., 2012Ridoutt et al., , 2009. Future analyses could also capture green WF and compare this with local water availability from precipitation and potential yields (Hoekstra, 2016). ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    Agriculture accounts for ~ 90% of India's fresh water use, and there are concerns that future food production will be threatened by insufficient water supply of adequate quality. This study aimed to quantify the water required in the production of diets in India using the water footprint (WF) assessment method. The socio-demographic associations of dietary WFs were explored using mixed effects regression models with a particular focus on blue (irrigation) WF given the importance for Indian agriculture. Dietary data from ~ 7000 adults living in India were matched to India-specific WF data for food groups to quantify the blue and green (rainfall) WF of typical diets. The mean blue and green WF of diets was 737 l/capita/day and 2531 l/capita/day, respectively. Vegetables had the lowest WFs per unit mass of product, while roots/tubers had the lowest WFs per unit dietary energy. Poultry products had the greatest blue WFs. Wheat and rice contributed 31% and 19% of the dietary blue WF respectively. Vegetable oils were the highest contributor to dietary green WF. Regional variation in dietary choices meant large differences in dietary blue WFs, whereby northern diets had nearly 1.5 times greater blue WFs than southern diets. Urban diets had a higher blue WF than rural diets, and a higher standard of living was associated with larger dietary blue WFs. This study provides a novel perspective on the WF of diets in India using individual-level dietary data, and demonstrates important variability in WFs due to different food consumption patterns and socio-demographic characteristics. Future dietary shifts towards patterns currently consumed by individuals in higher income groups, would likely increase irrigation requirements putting substantial pressure on India's water resources.
  • ... This is still well below the farm-gate water footprint of Australian rice, summer legumes, summer oilseeds, citrus, stone fruit (e.g., peach and nectarine), tropical stone fruit, nuts, and grapes. Considering lamb, with a carcass yield of 47% and a recovery of prime cuts of 86% of the carcass, 75 the water footprint of retail cuts is then around 48 L-eq kg −1 , lower than poultry and even lower than the farm-gate water footprint of Australian vegetables. ...
    Article
    Environmentally extended input-output analysis (EEIOA) supports environmental policy by quantifying how demand for goods and services leads to resource use and emissions across the economy. However, some types of resource use and emissions require spatially-explicit impact assessment for meaningful interpretation, which is not possible in conventional EEIOA. For example, water use in locations of scarcity and abundance is not environmentally equivalent. Opportunities for spatially-explicit impact assessment in conventional EEIOA are limited because official input-output tables tend to be produced at the scale of political units which are not usually well aligned with environmentally relevant spatial units. In this study, spatially-explicit water scarcity factors and a spatially disaggregated Australian water use account were used to develop water scarcity extensions that were coupled with a multi-regional input-output model (MRIO). The results link demand for agricultural commodities to the problem of water scarcity in Australia and globally. Important differences were observed between the water use and water scarcity footprint results, as well as the relative importance of direct and indirect water use, with significant implications for sustainable production and consumption-related policies. The approach presented here is suggested as a feasible general approach for incorporating spatially-explicit impact assessment in EEIOA.
  • ... Previously published WF literature has been constricted to using national production data or theoretical production data to represent heterogeneous systems (Ridoutt et al., 2012;ZonderlandThomassen and Ledgard, 2012). This can be misleading when attempting to identify freshwater demands on a local scale. ...
    Article
    Freshwater use in agriculture is a matter of discussion due to rising concerns over water scarcity, availability and pollution. To make robust predictions of freshwater demand, a large dataset of agricultural data is needed to discern the relationships between production parameters and water demand. The objective of this research was to predict freshwater demand (L yr⁻¹) on Irish dairy farms based on a minimal set of farm data. A detailed water footprint (WF) was calculated for 20 dairy farms for 2014 and 2015, and the relationships between the WF and agricultural inputs explored via a mixed modelling procedure, to develop a minimal footprinting solution. The WF comprised of the consumption of soil moisture due to evapotranspiration (green water, GW) and ground and surface water (blue water, BW). The performance of the models was validated using an independent data set of five dairy farms. The GW model was applied to 221 dairy farms to establish the relationship between the GWF of milk and economic performance. The average total volumetric WF of the 20 farms was 778 L/kg fat and protein corrected milk (L/kg FPCM) (range 415 – 1,338 L/kg FPCM). Freshwater for pasture production made up 93% of the GW footprint. Grass grown, imported forages and concentrates fed were all significant predictors of GW. The relative prediction error (RPE) of the GW model was 11.3%. Metered on-farm water and concentrates were both significant predictors of BW. The RPE of the BW model was 3.4%. When applied to 221 dairy farms ranked by net margin per hectare, there was a trend (P<0.05) towards higher profitability as the GWF decreased, indicating that the GWF of dairy farms can be improved by implementing good management practices aligned with improving profitability.
  • ... A water balance approach was used to determine consumptive water use on each farm, following Ridoutt et al. (2010Ridoutt et al. ( , 2012aRidoutt et al. ( , 2012b. The baseline situation (no dairy production) was modelled using the generalised equation of Zhang et al. (2001), relating evapotranspiration (ET) to precipitation (P) for grassed catchments. ...
    Article
    ISO14046 sets out principles, requirements and guidelines for the quantification of a water footprint taking a life cycle perspective. The international standard is intended to support product water footprint labeling and corporate sustainability reporting. However, the document is not prescriptive in regard to the use of any one specific water footprint indicator. In this study, water scarcity footprints were calculated for milk production on 75 farms in three parts of south-eastern Australia. Three indicators, with distinctly different conceptual basis and model structure, were applied. Included was the AWARE indicator recently developed under the UNEP-SETAC Life Cycle Initiative. The different indicator results were highly correlated (Spearman's rank correlation 0.91–0.99) and the life cycle stages and processes identified as important were the same. Therefore, all three indicators were considered suitable for informing internal strategic action. However, the different indicators produced results which differed greatly in absolute value, in some cases by a factor of > 300. To enable consumers and others to make comparisons between the water scarcity footprints of different products or organisations, program (or scheme) operators will need to specify the indicator to be used. The three indicators were assessed according to scaling, interpretability and coherence with LCA results, and found to differ in terms of suitability for use in a water footprint program. The AWARE indicator was deemed to be least suitable.
  • ... So, including water scarcity in an environmental footprint means that a large amount of detailed data needs to be collected and sophisticated tools and skills are required. Any simplified analysis will very likely result in large errors and may not provide any more insight or may give a wrong impression of the actual situation (e.g. as shown by Ridoutt et al., 2012). We therefore recommend to clearly communicate the strengths or weaknesses of the water scarcity assessment when presenting the results. ...
    Article
    Several attempts have been made to harmonize guidelines for environmental footprints of food and beverages. For example, the food Sustainable Consumption and Production Roundtable, the Leap partnership, and the Environmental Footprint project, in particular within the Cattle Model Working Group. Despite all these activities, there are still many issues unresolved. This paper gives an overview of five important reasons why it is so difficult to reach consensus within the sector. In short, the issues are: 1) how to allocate deforestation to land use activities; 2) how to assess agricultural emissions profiles; 3) how to make regionalized water scarcity assessments; 4) how to choose the functional unit of food and beverages; and 5) how to deal with multi-functional processes in agro-industry. Recommendations as motivated in this paper are, in summary, to: 1) use the method to calculate the amount of land use change caused by increased pressure from growing areas per crop in each country; 2) always calculate agricultural emissions using at least an intermediate level of detail with the option to add more detail; 3) use good quality irrigation and crop evapotranspiration data, and at least country specific water scarcity factors; 4) report the environmental footprint results per unit of economic value besides per unit of mass or volume to enable fairer comparisons; 5) and apply economic allocation in all multi-functional agricultural and agri-industrial processes based on realistic prices calculated as multiple year averages.
  • ... Upoređivanje SZV kultura u odnosu na druge zemlje mora biti sveobuhvatno, jer nije uvek slučaj da visoki zahtevi za vodom potiču usled ekstenzivne poljoprivrede, već razlozi mogu biti i druge vrste na koje čovek ne može da utiče (kišniji region, moćnost i kapacitet zemljišta da zadrži vodu, toplotni režim). To se može manifestovati i na SZV životinjskog porekla (Ridoutt et al., 2012). ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    Sažetak: Ograničeni vodni resursi, rastući zahtevi za vodom i sve nepovoljniji klimatski uslovi doveli su do razvoja novih koncepata, sa ciljem procene potražnje i potrošnje vode na lokalnom i globalnom nivou. Koncepti koji se u novije vreme koriste pri rešavanju ovakvih problema su "vodni otisak" i "virtuelna trgovina vodom". Ciljevi ovog rada su: (1) da se odrede specifični zahtevi za vodom najvažnijih poljoprivrednih proizvoda u procesu međunarodne trgovine Srbije, (2) da se oceni mogućnost povećanja produktivnosti vode pri proizvodnji tih proizvoda i (3) da se proceni održivost vodnih resursa Srbije, na osnovu odnosa vode koju Srbija uvozi/izvozi tokom "virtuelne trgovine vodom". Izračunavanjem specifične potrošnje vode za pšenicu, kukuruz, suncokret, šećernu repu i soju i poređenjem sa specifičnom potrošnjom vode ovih kultura u drugim zemljama, utvrđeno je da postoji prostor da se unapredi korišćenje vode, npr. podešavanjem sortimenta ili promenama u tehnologiji gajenja. Na osnovu odnosa izračunatih izvezenih i uvezenih virtuelnih količina vode za period 1995-1999. godine i 2010-2013. godine, može se zaključiti Srbija izvozi više vode nego što uvozi. Čak i sa dodatnim porastom izvoza poljoprivrednih proizvoda neće doći do narušavanja vodne održivosti Srbije. Ključne reči: specifična potrošnja vode, virtuelna trgovina vodom, poljoprivredni proizvodi, produktivnost vode. Uvod Poljoprivreda je najveći potrošač vode na svetu sa prosečnom potrošnjom od oko 70% ukupnih voda (FAO, 2017). Ovaj procenat je u aridnim predelima znatno veći i ide do 89%, dok je u humidnim predelima značajno manji i varira od 20% u Rusiji, do 35-60% u tropskim i humidnim predelima (FAO, 2017). Sa porastom * Autor
  • ... Special concern was paid to estimate the fresh water consumption in agricultural sector as it is responsible for approximately 70% of total withdrawals for irrigation purposes [5]. Some attempts to estimate WF in a national or household level ( [6][7][8]), a product ( [9][10][11][12]), an activity ( [13][14][15]) and a sector [16] have been lately performed by researchers In this paper, the WF indicator including fresh water volumes consumption and polluted water volumes was estimated for a large cultivated region in Messara Plain in Crete, Greece by the stress-weighted water footprint (WFeqH2O) approach [4]. The purpose of this analysis is to gain insight into existing and proposed agricultural schemes in a highly importance cultivated region in Crete, Greece. ...
    Conference Paper
    Full-text available
    In this paper, the concept of water footprint (WF) was used as an indicator to determine the water consumption of an agricultural activity and then to estimate the environmental burden of this consumption by the stress-weighted water footprint (WFeqH2O) approach considering the type and the origin of water used in order to assess the potential contribution to water scarcity in water-scarce areas like Messara Plain in Crete, Greece. This region, where large quantities of agricultural products are produced, faces serious problem regarding irrigation needs coverage. In order to overcome this problem a restructuring of cultivated land and modernization of the existing irrigation systems are proposed. The purpose of this analysis is to gain insight into existing and proposed agricultural schemes in a high importance cultivated region in Crete, Greece. In addition, another goal of the analysis is to explore and assess the potential of the water footprint concept to be used as a reliable and convenient indicator for the development of an optimal agricultural and rural policy focusing on optimal water resources management. Based on this concept, restructuring of agricultural crops in Messara Plain from 13 to, 5 besides the construction and operation of new irrigation infrastructure works, are also proposed to obtain better water resources management. As it is shown so far in order to propose a new agricultural scheme that will involve mainly crop restructuring, a critical design parameter is the crop yield that is directly correlated to agricultural water footprint.
  • ... However, despite the catalogue of negative impacts evident in the loss of biodiversity, high consumption of fresh water, and GHG emissions, these impacts may not be as great as claimed. For example, the large footprint on water resources is a clear example of where these assessments are misleading Ridoutt, Sanguansri, Nolan, & Marks, 2012). Furthermore, in the developing world, livestock generally use land that is either unsuitable for crop production or integrated with cropping systems to utilise residues (Thornton & Herrero, 2010). ...
    Article
    Grasslands are the predominant forage source for grazing animals and cover more of the Earth's land than any other major vegetation type. Their values are not always recognised and conversion to other uses is continuing at a high rate leading to greater environmental and socio‐economic problems. Over‐grazing is one of the main drivers of productivity decline of grasslands, reflecting the pressures from excessive human populations and a demand for food. Some 20% of the world's grasslands are in a severely degraded state; others have suffered shifts to less‐desirable species. Biodiversity and greenhouse gas production have also been particular concerns. Estimates of productivity change all show a decline over recent decades yet animal numbers continue to increase, particularly in the developing world. This paper critically reviews the projected demands for livestock products, driven largely by human population growth; the current health of the world's grasslands and how current livestock systems which depend on land conversion and over‐exploitation of grassland are inappropriate and need to be improved. Central to this argument is that small holders in the developing world will be responsible for a large amount of the future red meat production and this can be achieved through more efficient livestock production systems using lower stocking rates. The Australian sheep industry is provided as an example of how livestock production and reduced environmental impacts can be achieved with improved efficiency. Changes will require smallholders to transition to a competitive, market‐oriented livestock industry, which will provide challenges.
  • ... Water cycle disturbances The traditional inventory-based proxy for assessing water cycle disturbances (or water use impact, as it is traditionally referred to; the terminology is further discussed in Section 5.3) -i.e. the volume of freshwater used -has been criticised for not correlating with actual impacts further down the cause-effect chain ( Ridoutt et al. 2012;Ridoutt 2011). This has led to intense development of more elaborate methods, as reviewed by Berger & Finkbeiner (2010), Kounina et al. (2013) and Boulay et al. (2015). ...
    Chapter
    This chapter contains some concluding remarks related to the content of previous chapters, for example stressing the need for context-aligned methods and practices in life cycle assessment (LCA) of forest products.
  • ... Water cycle disturbances The traditional inventory-based proxy for assessing water cycle disturbances (or water use impact, as it is traditionally referred to; the terminology is further discussed in Section 5.3) -i.e. the volume of freshwater used -has been criticised for not correlating with actual impacts further down the cause-effect chain ( Ridoutt et al. 2012;Ridoutt 2011). This has led to intense development of more elaborate methods, as reviewed by Berger & Finkbeiner (2010), Kounina et al. (2013) and Boulay et al. (2015). ...
    Book
    This brief contains information on the reduction of environmental impact and explains how it is a key driver for the R&D of new forest products. The authors, experts in the field, describe how Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is used to assess the environmental impact of such products, e.g. in order to guide R&D or attract investments. The authors describe the main challenges of carrying out LCAs on forest products, make recommendations for managing these challenges, and discuss future research needs. LCA case studies are used to illustrate the challenges, covering a variety of forest products: building components, biofuels, industrial chemicals, textile fibres and clothing. Described challenges include the planning of LCA studies (e.g.how can one use LCA in R&D?), the modelling of product systems (how can one handle multi-functionality and uncertainties related to waste handling and geographical location of future production?) and environmental impact (how can one assess water and land use impact, and the climate impact of biomass?).
  • ... Water cycle disturbances The traditional inventory-based proxy for assessing water cycle disturbances (or water use impact, as it is traditionally referred to; the terminology is further discussed in Section 5.3) -i.e. the volume of freshwater used -has been criticised for not correlating with actual impacts further down the cause-effect chain ( Ridoutt et al. 2012;Ridoutt 2011). This has led to intense development of more elaborate methods, as reviewed by Berger & Finkbeiner (2010), Kounina et al. (2013) and Boulay et al. (2015). ...
    Chapter
    This chapter introduces some of the strengths and weaknesses of forest products, for example relating to renewability, biodegradability, climate change, biodiversity loss and water cycle disturbances, indirect land use and land use change. It is explained how the complexities surrounding these topics are key reasons for why environmental assessments are needed to ensure that forest products replacing non-forest products actually reduce environmental impact.
  • ... The traditional inventory-based proxy for assessing water cycle disturbances (or water use impact, as it is traditionally referred to; the terminology is further discussed in Section 5.3)i.e. the volume of freshwater usedhas been criticised for not correlating with actual impacts further down the cause-effect chain (Ridoutt et al. 2012;Ridoutt 2011). This has led to intense development of more elaborate methods, as reviewed by Berger & Finkbeiner (2010), Kounina et al. (2013) and Boulay et al. (2015). ...
    Chapter
    This chapter provides an extensive walkthrough of the important challenges encountered when carrying out life cycle assessment (LCA) of forest products, and proposes some solutions to these challenges, with examples from the scientific literature and technical reports. The topics include: modelling future and/or uncertain product systems, handling multi-functionality (i.e., allocation problems), inventory analysis and impact assessment (carbon flow modelling, assessing climate impact, biodiversity loss, water cycle disturbances and energy use), managing trade-offs and connecting the LCA work to global environmental challenges, and integrating LCA work in the R&D of new products.
  • ... The traditional inventory-based proxy for assessing water cycle disturbances (or water use impact, as it is traditionally referred to; the terminology is further discussed in Section 5.3) -i.e. the volume of freshwater used -has been criticised for not correlating with actual impacts further down the cause-effect chain ( Ridoutt et al. 2012;Ridoutt 2011). This has led to intense development of more elaborate methods, as reviewed by Berger & Finkbeiner (2010), Kounina et al. (2013) and Boulay et al. (2015). ...
    Chapter
    This chapter introduces life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology in terms of the four phases of an LCA: goal and scope definition, life cycle inventory analysis, life cycle impact assessment and interpretation. It also introduces the concepts of attributional and consequential LCA, which relate to many of the challenges described in Chap. 4. Finally, it describes the context and limitations of LCA, and its relation to other environmental systems analysis tools, such as life cycle sustainability assessment and quantitative risk assessment.
  • ... The main objective of this study, therefore, was to determine the primary contributors to freshwater consumption up to the farm gate expressed as a volumetric WF and associated impacts for the production of 1 kg of beef and sheep meat on a selection of Irish, pasture-based farms for 2 consecutive years, 2014 and 2015. Ridoutt et al. (2012b) stressed that while a volumetric WF is useful in highlighting the intrinsic role of freshwater resources in livestock production, it is not correlated with the environmental impact of freshwater use. Changes in water availability due to consumption of freshwater resources should also be included. ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    In the context of water use for agricultural production, water footprints (WFs) have become an important sustainability indicator. To understand better the water demand for beef and sheep meat produced on pasture-based systems, a WF of individual farms is required. The main objective of this study was to determine the primary contributors to freshwater consumption up to the farm gate expressed as a volumetric WF and associated impacts for the production of 1 kg of beef and 1 kg of sheep meat from a selection of pasture-based farms for 2 consecutive years, 2014 and 2015. The WF included green water, from the consumption of soil moisture due to evapotranspiration, and blue water, from the consumption of ground and surface waters. The impact of freshwater consumption on global water stress from the production of beef and sheep meat in Ireland was also computed. The average WF of the beef farms was 8391 l/kg carcass weight (CW) of which 8222 l/kg CW was green water and 169 l/kg CW was blue water; water for the production of pasture (including silage and grass) contributed 88% to the WF, concentrate production – 10% and on-farm water use – 1%. The average stress-weighted WF of beef was 91 l H 2 O eq/kg CW, implying that each kg of beef produced in Ireland contributed to freshwater scarcity equivalent to the consumption of 91 l of freshwater by an average world citizen. The average WF of the sheep farms was 7672 l/kg CW of which 7635 l/kg CW was green water and 37 l/kg CW was blue water; water for the production of pasture contributed 87% to the WF, concentrate production – 12% and on-farm water use – 1%. The average stress-weighted WF was 2 l H 2 O eq/kg CW for sheep. This study also evaluated the sustainability of recent intensification initiatives in Ireland and found that increases in productivity were supported through an increase in green water use and higher grass yields per hectare on both beef and sheep farms.
  • Chapter
    Biomass energy has an advantage among renewable energy technologies because it is storable potential energy. A variety of biomass energy technologies have been subjects of research on their environmental burdens. Because these technologies are strongly related to agricultural production, their evaluation has faced the issue of uncertainty that is inherent in agriculture. Methodologies in assessing the environmental impact of biomass energy technologies, including how that uncertainty should be treated in the assessment, are introduced in this chapter. This is followed by some case studies, including those of the life cycle assessment of energy crop cultivation and evaluation of the effect of economic promotion policies on greenhouse gas reduction.
  • Article
    Sustainable consumption of water is nowadays vital around the world because water shortages have prevented economic growth in many regions. This article reports the strategy in the University of Sonora for conserving this natural resource by presenting a case study constructed through direct participation in the design, operation, and maintenance of its Sustainability Management System (SMS), which is ISO 14001 certified, and by discussing the efforts to eliminate any inappropriate behaviors that generates wastewater on campus.The University of Sonora, just as any other higher education institution, has obtained environmental and economic benefits by implementing its SMS. The main benefit has been maintaining very low levels of wasted cubic meters of water, since the total of the three periods is approximately 38 m3, which are equal to $59 dollars. Through this effort, the institution presents itself before society as a responsible entity in the use and care of our natural resources.Findings of this article provide insights to enrich the current debate on how to prevent, eliminate, and reduce water use inefficiencies on campus, and, in that way, contribute to mainstream knowledge toward achieving sustainability in universities.
  • Article
    Objective. An extended water footprint (EWF) and an occupied water footprint (OWF) are proposed in this study as indices of water resource consumption. EWF represents the burden of water resource consumption in flow base, and has a unit of area in which the water supply equals to the subject consumption. Similarly, OWF is derived in stock base and has a unit of area multiplied by occupied time period. They are based on the concept of acceptable delay of water use, instead of fixed period such as a month and a year which is the basis of conventional water footprint. EWF and OWF enable us to analyze the sustainability of water resource consumption in higher detail, in particular in temporal variation. Similar to an ecological footprint, the regional and temporal differences in water scarcity are comparable to the total carrying capacity. In addition to being exact water footprint indices, EWFs and OWFs can be treated as impact categories in midpoint analysis of life cycle assessment (LCA), similar to land use and land occupation with the same dimensions. To evaluate the possibility of using the EWF and the OWF in the assessment of water use in agricultural production, sugarcane production for biofuel on Tokunoshima Island was examined as a case study.Results and Discussion. EWF exhibited a higher value in blue water (BW) in comparison to green water (GW). In particular, higher values were shown during the summer, when evapotranspiration was active. The EWF exceeded the actual cultivation area in some periods, and it was eight times higher at its maximum, which indicates temporal unsustainability. However, the total annual OWF was less than the actual land occupation, showing that the process can be sustainable with adequate water resource management. The corresponding value from conventional water footprint calculation showed significant variation by day, which indicates the difficulty of analyzing the daily variation in water stress using conventional methods. An analysis of all the processes of bioethanol production showed that the impact of sugarcane cultivation dominated them in terms of water resource consumption.Conclusions. The current work showed the potential of EWFs and OWFs as new indicators for analyses of water resource consumption. They are expected to be utilized as impact categories in LCA, especially in fine-grained analysis, although some challenges remain with regard to both database preparation and analysis methodologies.
  • Preprint
    Full-text available
    In this study, the green component of Water Footprint (WF) has been estimated for crops, forests and pastures in two river basins in Greece. The calculations and necessary geospatial data processing were performed using a geographic information system (GIS). The processed data were derived from terrestrial measurements or remote sensing data and products. The evaluation outcomes indicated the relative superior performance of the remote sensing data for estimating the green component of the WF, in terms of applicability, scalability, reliability and cost-effectiveness. However, it is not yet possible to employ only satellite observations without the use and validation of terrestrial data.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Australia is one of the two largest exporting nations for beef and lamb in the world and the USA is a major export market for both products. To inform the Australian red meat industry regarding the environmental performance of exported food products, this study conducted the first multi-impact analysis of Australian red meat export supply chains including all stages through to warehousing in the USA. A large, integrated dataset based on case study farms and regional survey was used to model beef and lamb from major representative production regions in eastern Australia. Per kilogram of retail-ready red meat, fresh water consumption ranged from 441.7 to 597.6 L across the production systems, stress-weighted water use from 108.5 to 169.4 L H2O-e, fossil energy from 28.1 to 46.6 MJ, crop land occupation from 2.5 to 29.9 m2 and human edible protein conversion efficiency ranged from 7.9 to 0.3, with major differences observed between grass finished and grain finished production. GHG emissions excluding land use and direct land use change ranged from 16.1 to 27.2 kg CO2-e per kilogram, and removals and emissions from land use and direct land use change ranged from −2.4 to 8.7 kg CO2-e per kilogram of retail retail ready meat.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    The water footprint is a consumption-based indicator of water use, referring to the total volume of freshwater used directly and indirectly by a nation or a company, or in the provision of a product or service. Despite widespread enthusiasm for the development and use of water footprints, some concerns have been raised about the concept and its usefulness. A variety of methodologies have been developed for water footprinting which differ with respect to how they deal with different forms of water use. The result is water footprint estimates which vary dramatically, often creating confusion. Despite these methodological qualms, the concept has had notable success in raising awareness about water use in agricultural and industrial supply chains, by providing a previously unavailable and (seemingly) simple numerical indicator of water use. Nevertheless, and even though a range of uses have already been suggested for water footprinting, its policy value remains unclear. Unlike the carbon footprint which provides a universal measure of human impact on the atmosphere's limited absorptive capacity, the water footprint in its conventional form solely quantifies a single production input without any accounting of the impacts of use, which vary spatially and temporally. Following an extensive review of the literature related to water footprints, this paper critically examines the present uses of the concept, focusing on its current strengths, shortcomings and promising research avenues to advance it.
  • Thesis
    Full-text available
    Global trade and increasing food demand are important drivers of impacts in the water system across scales. This study coupled a spatially-explicit physical account of trade between Brazilian municipalities with a water footprint accounting model, in order to analyse water footprints of Brazilian soy produced for domestic and international consumption, and assess their relevance in the context of water scarcity and competing demands for water resources. The water footprints of Brazilian soy production were assessed for different levels of spatial-explicitness for comparison. The Swedish water footprints were analysed within this framework to illustrate the use of the methodology. As a result, temporal and geographical patterns of variability of water the footprints related to Brazilian soy production, attributed to different consumers in the global market, were identified. The study found the methodology to unveil important processes connected to economic and trade drivers, as well as to variability in climate and production yields. It was found that important regional variability was not considered or fully understood when accounting for water footprints as a national aggregate. Opportunities for improvement and further research were also discussed.
  • Article
    Freshwater overexploitation and scarcity have led to extensive shifts in demand patterns for water-friendly products. As several agricultural and industrial activities are closely intertwined with water consumption, the availability of sufficient freshwater resources constitutes a significant precondition for covering global consumer needs. In this context, the design and management of sustainable supply chains in terms of freshwater resources' preservation have emerged as major challenges in the corporate agenda. As such, the concept of water footprint as a key performance indicator of freshwater utilization has been introduced at national, corporate and product levels. In this manuscript, we first provide a critical literature synthesis concerning product water footprint assessment in order to map the state-of-the-art research related to freshwater consumption and pollution in the agricultural and industrial sectors. Our analysis demonstrates that although water footprint assessment is a rapidly evolving research field, scientific publications focusing on a holistic approach concerning freshwater exploitation at a supply chain extent are rather limited. The findings further verify that the agrifood sector dominates global water use. In this respect, we analyse both corporate and academic literature in order to identify emerging issues on freshwater resources' management for agrifood products. Finally, we propose a first-effort hierarchical decision-making framework that includes water footprint mitigation policies for agrifood supply chains in order to support all stakeholders in developing a comprehensive water stewardship strategy.
  • Article
    This paper addresses water use impacts of agriculture, developing a spatially-explicit approach tracing the location of water use and water scarcity related to feed production, transport, and livestock, tracking uncertainties and illustrating the approach with a case study on dairy production in the United States. This approach was developed as a step to bring spatially-variable production and impacts into a process-based Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) context. As water resources and demands are spatially variable, it is critical to take into account the location of activities to properly understand the impacts of water use, accounting for each of the main feeds for milk production. At the crop production level, the example of corn grain shows that 59% of water stress associated with corn grain production in the United States is located in Nebraska, a state with moderate water stress and moderate corn production (11%). At the level of milk production, four watersheds account for 78% of the national water stress impact, as these areas have high milk production and relatively high water stress; it is the production of local silage and hay crops that drives water consumption in these areas. By considering uncertainty in both inventory data and impact characterization factors, we demonstrate that spatial variability may be larger than uncertainty, and that not systematically accounting for the two can lead to artificially high uncertainty. Using a non-spatial approach in a spatially variable setting can result in a significant underestimation or overestimation of water impacts. The approach demonstrated here could be applied to other spatially-variable processes.
  • Article
    Meat eating is often a contentious subject, whether considering the technical, ethical, environmental, political, or health-related aspects of production and consumption. This book is a wide-ranging and interdisciplinary examination and critique of meat consumption by humans, throughout their evolution and around the world. Setting the scene with a chapter on meat's role in human evolution and its growing influence during the development of agricultural practices, the book goes on to examine modern production systems, their efficiencies, outputs, and impacts. The major global trends of meat consumption are described in order to find out what part its consumption plays in changing modern diets in countries around the world. The heart of the book addresses the consequences of the "massive carnivory" of western diets, looking at the inefficiencies of production and at the huge impacts on land, water, and the atmosphere. Health impacts are also covered, both positive and negative. In conclusion, the author looks forward at his vision of "rational meat eating", where environmental and health impacts are reduced, animals are treated more humanely, and alternative sources of protein make a higher contribution. Should We Eat Meat? is not an ideological tract for or against carnivorousness but rather a careful evaluation of meat's roles in human diets and the environmental and health consequences of its production and consumption. It will be of interest to a wide readership including professionals and academics in food and agricultural production, human health and nutrition, environmental science, and regulatory and policy making bodies around the world.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Water scarcity, a function of supply and demand, is a regional issue with global repercussions, given that i) the increasing human population and demand for animal products will increase water demand and that ii) global climate change is altering rainfall patterns worldwide. Water can be divided into "blue" (surface and groundwater), "green" (soil water subject to evapotranspiration) and "grey" water (water necessary to dilute pollutants to acceptable levels). On a global scale, agriculture represents 70% of blue water use. One main difference among all methods for assessing water use is whether and how they include green and grey water with blue water. The "water footprint" approach includes green and grey water, whereas life cycle assessment approaches tend to exclude them or to include only the variation in green water availability resulting from land use change. A second difference is whether water use is reported as a volume of water (L) or a volume weighted by a water stress index (L water equivalents). Because of these differences and the few livestock systems studied, methods give wildly different results for the same livestock product. Ultimately, water scarcity depends on blue water use. The contribution of livestock to water scarcity can be reduced by decreasing their water consumption and/or that of the irrigated crops they consume.
  • Article
    Purpose The life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) guidance flagship project of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)/Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) Life Cycle Initiative aims at providing global guidance and building scientific consensus on environmental LCIA indicators. This paper presents the progress made since 2013, preliminary results obtained for each impact category and the description of a rice life cycle assessment (LCA) case study designed to test and compare LCIA indicators. Methods The effort has been focused in a first stage on impacts of global warming, fine particulate matter emissions, water use and land use, plus cross-cutting issues and LCA-based footprints. The paper reports the process and progress and specific results obtained in the different task forces (TFs). Additionally, a rice LCA case study common to all TF has been developed. Three distinctly different scenarios of producing and cooking rice have been defined and underlined with life cycle inventory data. These LCAs help testing impact category indicators which are being developed and/or selected in the harmonisation process. The rice LCA case study further helps to ensure the practicality of the finally recommended impact category indicators. Results and discussion The global warming TF concludes that analysts should explore the sensitivity of LCA results to metrics other than GWP. The particulate matter TF attained initial guidance of how to include health effects from PM2.5 exposures consistently into LCIA. The biodiversity impacts of land use TF suggests to consider complementary metrics besides species richness for assessing biodiversity loss. The water use TF is evaluating two stress-based metrics, AWaRe and an alternative indicator by a stakeholder consultation. The cross-cutting issues TF agreed upon maintaining disability-adjusted life years (DALY) as endpoint unit for the safeguard subject “human health”. The footprint TF defined main attributes that should characterise all footprint indicators. “Rice cultivation” and “cooking” stages of the rice LCA case study contribute most to the environmental impacts assessed. Conclusions The results of the TF will be documented in white papers and some published in scientific journals. These white papers represent the input for the Pellston workshop™, taking place in Valencia, Spain, from 24 to 29 January 2016, where best practice, harmonised LCIA indicators and an update on the general LCIA framework will be discussed and agreed on. With the diversity in results and the multi-tier supply chains, the rice LCA case study is well suited to test candidate recommended indicators and to ensure their applicability in common LCA case studies.
  • Article
    Dairy production in the USA at the national scale is a distributed production system that entails great geographic diversity with respect to inputs and outputs. Milk therefore represents an interesting case study to develop and test spatialized life cycle approaches for both inventory and impact assessment. The study is to be used by the US dairy industry to create a baseline water footprint, helping that industry and its constituent milk producers to identify areas to target for improvement, explore the changes in impact associated with new management scenarios, and document those improvements. The result showed that water stress is 146 liters in competition per kilogram milk consumed and 121 liters in competition per kilogram milk at farm gate (water consumption is 225 liters per kilogram milk consumed and 181 liters of water consumed per kilogram milk at farm gate).
  • Article
    The expected increase in broiler meat consumption in Brazil in future will lead to further increase in water use. The objective of this study was to quantify water productivity of four Brazilian broiler farms. Water use in the four farming systems was analyzed in terms of feed production, drinking, cleaning, and cooling. One focus was the crop water productivity of the respective corn and soy producing regions in Brazil. After the spatial and temporal boundaries of the farm system and the water flows were defined, the indicator farm water productivity was calculated to assess water use at the farm scale. The farm water productivity describes the ratio of farm output to water input, where the water input is the total of those water inflows into the farm system that can be assigned to the generation of farm output. Farm output is expressed on a mass basis, food energy basis, and monetary basis. The farm water productivity and the crop water productivity were calculated using the modeling software AgroHyd Farmmodel. In all fattening systems, water input for feed production accounted for 99.7% of the total water input. In the four systems, farm water productivity accounted for 0.29–0.33 kg carcass weight per m3 water input, 2.60–2.88 MJ food energy per m3 water input, and 0.15–0.17 R$ per m3 water input. The results showed that the highest water demand was for feed production. Improvements in nutritional management will increase the water efficiency of broiler farms.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Climate change adds an additional layer of complexity that needs to be considered in business strategy. For firms in the food industry, many of the important climate impacts are not directly related to food processing so a value chain approach to adaptation is recommended. However, there is a general lack of operational tools to support this. In this study, carbon and water footprints were conducted at a low-precision screening level in three case studies in Australia: Smith’s potato chips, OneHarvest Calypso™ mango and selected Treasury Wine Estates products. The approach was cost-effective when compared to high-definition studies intended to support environmental labels and declarations, yet provided useful identification of physical, financial, regulatory and reputational hotspots related to climate change. A combination of diagnostic footprinting, downscaled climate projection and semi-quantitative value chain analysis is proposed as a practical and relevant toolkit to inform climate adaptation strategies.
  • Structural change in the livestock sector Livestock in a Changing Landscape Comparing environmental impacts for livestock products: a review of life cycle assessments Water-mediated ecological consequences of intensification and expansion of livestock production
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    Costa, N.D., 2007. Reducing the meat and livestock industry's environmental foot-print. Nutr. Diet 64, S185eS191. de Haan, C., Gerber, P., Opio, C., 2010. Structural change in the livestock sector. In: Steinfeld, H., Mooney, H.A., Schneider, F., Neville, L.E. (Eds.), Livestock in a Changing Landscape. Island Press, London, pp. 35e66. de Vries, M., de Boer, I.J.M., 2010. Comparing environmental impacts for livestock products: a review of life cycle assessments. Livest. Sci. 128, 1e11. Deutsch, L., Falkenmark, M., Gordon, L., Rockström, J., Folke, C., 2010. Water-mediated ecological consequences of intensification and expansion of livestock production. In: Steinfeld, H., Mooney, H.A., Schneider, F., Neville, L.E. (Eds.), Livestock in a Changing Landscape. Island Press, London, pp. 97e110. DPIV, 2009. South West Farm Monitor Project. The State of Victoria, Department of Primary Industries. www.dpi.vic.gov.au (accessed September 11).
  • The Environmental Food Crisis: the Environment's Role in Averting Future Food Crises. UNEP/GRIP-Arendal, Arendal, Norway. Pearce, F., 1997. Thirsty meals that suck the world dry Water and livestock for human develop-ment Accounting for water use in Australian red meat production
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    Nellemann, C., MacDevette, M., Manders, T., Eickhout, B., Svihus, B., Prins, A.G., Kaltenborn, B.P. (Eds.), 2009. The Environmental Food Crisis: the Environment's Role in Averting Future Food Crises. UNEP/GRIP-Arendal, Arendal, Norway. Pearce, F., 1997. Thirsty meals that suck the world dry. New Sci. 2067, 7. Peden, D., Tadesse, G., Misra, A.K., 2007. Water and livestock for human develop-ment. In: Molden, D. (Ed.), Water for Food, Water for Life. Earthscan, London, pp. 485e514. Peters, G.M., Wiedemann, S.G., Rowley, H.V., Tucker, R.W., 2010. Accounting for water use in Australian red meat production. Int. J. Life Cycle Assess. 15, 311e320. Pfister, S., Koehler, A., Hellweg, S., 2009. Assessing the environmental impacts of freshwater consumption in LCA. Environ. Sci. Technol. 43, 4098e4104.
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  • The Inter-linkages Between Rapid Growth in Livestock Production, Climate Change, and the Impacts on Water Resources, Land Use, and Deforestation. Policy Research Working Paper 5178. The World Bank Response of mean annual evapotranspi-ration to vegetation changes at catchment scale
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    Grant, T., 2010. Australasian LCA Database: Manual for SimaPro Implementation. Life Cycle Strategies, Melbourne.
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    Steinfeld, H., Mooney, H.A., Schneider, F., Neville, L.E. (Eds.), 2010. Livestock in a Changing Landscape. Island Press, London.
  • China's move to higher-meat diet hits water security The effect of withholding drinking water on wool growth and lamb production of grazing Merino sheep in a temperate climate Assessment of land use impact on water-related ecosystem services capturing the integrated terrestrial-aquatic system
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  • The Environmental Food Crisis: the Environment's Role in Averting Future Food Crises
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  • Water and livestock for human development
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  • Primefact 326: Water Requirements for Sheep and Cattle. NSW Department of Primary Industries
    • G Markwick
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  • Article
    Drinking water was withheld from grazing pregnant and non-pregnant Merino ewes for a period of 12 months in an experiment carried out near Armidale, N.S.W., lat. 30° S., altitude 1000 m. There was no reduction in the wool production or liveweight of, or the number of lambs born to, ewes without drinking water as compared with ewes with water supplied. There was a significant reduction in the birth weight of the lambs of ewes without drinking water. Body water turnover rates were similar in sheep with and without water in the cooler months but a combination of climatic effects resulted in considerably lower water turnover rates of the sheep without water in early summer. Lactation, together with a low pasture water content and moderately high thermal loads in late December, resulted in a 25% mortality of the mated ewes without drinking water and the subsequent death of their lambs. Removal of the remaining ewes and lambs to green pasture immediately stopped the deaths although no drinking water was supplied. There were no deaths in the unmated ewes. The survival of most of the ewes when deprived of drinking water reflects in part the temperate climate of the Armidale area, where mean daily air temperatures during summer do not exceed 25°C and rain usually falls in each month of the year.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    This paper analyzes consumption of water by individuals agriculture and energy production by assessing the status of water resources. Furthermore it examines the relationship between water availability and biodiversity. The availability and quality of fresh water has become a major international problem. Limited water resources and inefficient water use combined with a rapidly growing population endanger the worlds finite fresh water supply. In many parts of the world per capita freshwater resources available for food production and for other human needs are declining and are becoming scarce in the arid regions. In fact agricultural productions account for approximately 87% of the worlds freshwater consumption. Moreover most of human activities adversely affect the quality of freshwater resources. Chemical and pathogen pollution of water supplies not only diminishes the quality of water but causes human health problems. Given these scenarios the freshwater problem can be prevented by 1) encouraging conservation and increasing efficiency of irrigation water by eliminating freshwater subsidies and encouraging developments in irrigation technologies; 2) giving farmers incentives to conserve water and soil resources; 3) controlling soil erosion; 4) protecting forests and other biological resources; and 4) preventing water pollution.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    The increasing demands placed on the global water supply threaten biodiversity and the supply of water for food production and other vital human needs. Water shortages already exist in many regions, with more than one billion people without adequate drinking water. In addition, 90% of the infectious diseases in developing countries are transmitted from polluted water. Agriculture consumes about 70% of fresh water worldwide; for example, approximately 1000 liters (L) of water are required to produce 1 kilogram (kg) of cereal grain, and 43,000 L to produce 1 kg of beef. New water supplies are likely to result from conservation, recycling, and improved water-use efficiency rather than from large development projects.
  • Article
    In many parts of the world, freshwater is already a scarce and overexploited natural resource, raising concerns about global food security and damage to freshwater ecosystems. This situation is expected to intensify with the FAO estimating that world food production must double by 2050. Food chains must therefore become much more efficient in terms of consumptive water use. For the small and geographically well-defined Australian mango industry, having an average annual production of 44,692 t of marketable fresh fruit, the average virtual water content (sum of green, blue and gray water) at orchard gate was 2298 l kg−1. However, due to wastage in the distribution and consumption stages of the product life cycle, the average virtual water content of 1 kg of Australian-grown fresh mango consumed by an Australian household was 5218 l. This latter figure compares to an Australian-equivalent water footprint of 217 l kg−1, which is the volume of direct water use in Australia having an equivalent potential to contribute to water scarcity. Nationally, distribution and consumption waste in the food chain of Australian-grown fresh mango to Australian households represented an annual waste of 26.7 Gl of green water and 16.6 Gl of blue water. These findings suggest that interventions to reduce food chain waste will likely have as great or even greater impact on freshwater resource availability as other water use efficiency measures in agriculture and food production.
  • Article
    Grazing is the single most extensive form of land use on the planet and, therefore, livestock producers bear a major responsibility for environmentally sustainable production practices. The major environmental challenges facing the meat and livestock industry in Australia are not unique, but they are pressing. They include the need to limit the generation of greenhouse gases, to conserve ecosystems and biodiversity, and to ensure the efficient use of freshwater. These issues will drive change in production systems for the Australian livestock industry. Methods to reduce methane production from cattle and sheep are under investigation, although significant challenges remain. Grazing systems for both cattle and sheep need to be integrated into landscape systems to sustain biodiversity. The Australian livestock industry needs to calculate and environmentally cost the use of freshwater to produce food and fibre. Current methods of calculating water use in livestock production are controversial and provide widely differing estimates. The unique and important nutritional properties of red meat should not be lost in the debate about the environmental impact of the meat and livestock industry in Australia. Nor should the environmental costs of alternative food production.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    The water footprint shows the extent of water use in relation to consumption of people. The water footprint of a country is defined as the volume of water needed for the production of the goods and services consumed by the inhabitants of the country. The internal water footprint is the volume of water used from domestic water resources; the external water footprint is the volume of water used in other countries to produce goods and services imported and consumed by the inhabitants of the country. The study calculates the water footprint for each nation of the world for the period 1997–2001. The USA appears to have an average water footprint of 2480m3/cap/yr, while China has an average footprint of 700m3/cap/yr. The global average water footprint is 1240m3/cap/yr. The four major direct factors determining the water footprint of a country are: volume of consumption (related to the gross national income); consumption pattern (e.g. high versus low meat consumption); climate (growth conditions); and agricultural practice (water use efficiency).
  • Article
    Background and theoryLife cycle assessment (LCA) and life cycle inventory (LCI) practice needs to engage with the debate on water use in agriculture and industry. In the case of the red meat sector, some of the methodologies proposed or in use cannot easily inform the debate because either the results are not denominated in units that are meaningful to the public or the results do not reflect environmental outcomes. This study aims to solve these problems by classifying water use LCI data in the Australian red meat sector in a manner consistent with contemporary definitions of sustainability. We intend to quantify water that is removed from the course it would take in the absence of production or degraded in quality by the production system. Materials and methodsThe water used by three red meat supply systems in southern Australia was estimated using hybrid LCA. Detailed process data incorporating actual growth rates and productivity achieved in two calendar years were complemented by an input–output analysis of goods and services purchased by the properties. Detailed hydrological modelling using a standard agricultural software package was carried out using actual weather data. ResultsThe model results demonstrated that the major hydrological flows in the system are rainfall and evapotranspiration. Transferred water flows and funds represent small components of the total water inputs to the agricultural enterprise, and the proportion of water degraded is also small relative to the water returned pure to the atmosphere. The results of this study indicate that water used to produce red meat in southern Australia is 18–540L/kg HSCW, depending on the system, reference year and whether we focus on source or discharge characteristics. InterpretationTwo key factors cause the considerable differences between the water use data presented by different authors: the treatment of rain and the feed production process. Including rain and evapotranspiration in LCI data used in simple environmental discussions is the main cause of disagreement between authors and is questionable from an environmental impact perspective because in the case of some native pastoral systems, these flows may not have changed substantially since the arrival of Europeans. Regarding the second factor, most of the grain and fodder crops used in the three red meat supply chains we studied in Australia are produced by dryland cropping. In other locations where surface water supplies are more readily available, such as the USA, irrigation of cattle fodder is more common. So whereas the treatment of rain is a methodological issue relevant to all studies relating water use to the production of red meat, the availability of irrigation water can be characterised as a fundamental difference between the infrastructure of red meat production systems in different locations. ConclusionsOur results are consistent with other published work when the methodological diversity of their work and the approaches we have used are taken into account. We show that for media claims that tens or hundreds of thousands of litres of water are used in the production of red meat to be true, analysts have to ignore the environmental consequences of water use. Such results may nevertheless be interesting if the purpose of their calculations is to focus on calorific or financial gain rather than environmental optimisation. Recommendations and perspectivesOur approach can be applied to other agricultural systems. We would not suggest that our results can be used as industry averages. In particular, we have not examined primary data for northern Australian beef production systems, where the majority of Australia’s export beef is produced. KeywordsBeef-Hybrid LCA-Meat-Sheep-Water
  • Article
    By 2050, global livestock production is expected to double—growing faster than any other agricultural sub-sector—with most of this increase taking place in the developing world. As the United Nation’s four-hundred-page report, Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options, documents, livestock production is now one of three most significant contributors to environmental problems, leading to increased greenhouse gas emissions, land degradation, water pollution, and increased health problems. The paper draws on the UN report as well as a flurry of other recently published studies in order to demonstrate the effect of intensive livestock production on global warming and on people’s health. The paper’s goal is to outline the problems caused by intensive livestock farming and analyze a number of possible solutions, including legislative changes and stricter regulations, community mobilizing, and consumers choosing to decrease their demand for animal products.
  • Article
    Responding to concerns about the unsustainable use of global freshwater resources, especially in agriculture, the concept of water footprinting has recently been developed and applied to a wide range of commodities. In this paper, water footprints were calculated for two complex agrifood products, 250 g Peanut M&M's® and 575 g Dolmio® pasta sauce, in order to evaluate the usefulness of the concept when applied at the product brand level. The process LCA-based methodology took account of blue water appropriated from surface and groundwater resources, green water appropriated from the root zone by plants, and dilution water, being the volume of freshwater needed to assimilate emissions to freshwater. These case studies revealed several issues, namely the lack of correspondence between water footprints and the availability of water for alternative uses in the absence of production, and the difficulty in relating water footprints to potential social and environmental harm. As such, the water footprinting concept requires further development to be useful for promoting sustainable production and consumption.
  • Article
    Through the interconnectedness of global business, the local consumption of products and services is intervening in the hydrological cycle throughout the world to an unprecedented extent. In order to address the unsustainable use of global freshwater resources, indicators are needed which make the impacts of production systems and consumption patterns transparent. In this paper, a revised water footprint calculation method, incorporating water stress characterisation factors, is presented and demonstrated for two case study products, Dolmio® pasta sauce and Peanut M&M's® using primary production data. The method offers a simple, yet meaningful way of making quantitative comparisons between products, production systems and services in terms of their potential to contribute to water scarcity. As such, capacity is created for change through public policy as well as corporate and individual action. This revised method represents an alternative to existing volumetric water footprint calculation methods which combine green and blue water consumption from water scarce and water abundant regions such that they give no clear indication about where the actual potential for harm exists.
  • Article
    The increase in water productivity is likely to play a vital role in coping with the additional requirement for food production and the growth of the uses of water other than in agriculture in the coming century consistent with the shift from productivity per unit land to productivity per unit water, the nutritional productivity of water is calculated as energy, protein, calcium, fat, Vitamin A, iron output per unit water input.Nutritional productivity is estimated in the agricultural context of California for the main crops and food products. In general vegetal products are much more productive than animal products. Four crops emerge as highly productive for one or several key nutrients: potato, groundnut, onion and carrot. A balanced diet based on these four crops requires a consumption of water (evapotranspired) of 1000 l per capita per day, while the current needs for the diet in the USA is 5400 l, and 4000 l for developed countries.On the basis of nutritional productivity analysis it is further demonstrated that a significant part of the additional water resource to produce food for the next century population can be generated by changes in food habits. A reduction of 25% of all animal products in the developed countries’ diet generates approximately 22% of the additional water requirements expected by the year 2025.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    It is now well established that forested catchments have higher evapotranspiration than grassed catchments. Thus land use management and rehabilitation strategies will have an impact on catchment water balance and hence water yield and groundwater recharge. The key controls on evapotranspiration are rainfall interception, net radiation, advection, turbulent transport, leaf area, and plant-available water capacity. The relative importance of these factors depends on climate, soil, and vegetation conditions. Results from over 250 catchments worldwide show that for a given forest cover, there is a good relationship between long-term average evapotranspiration and rainfall. From these observations and on the basis of previous theoretical work a simple two-parameter model was developed that relates mean annual evapotranspiration to rainfall, potential evapotranspiration, and plant-available water capacity. The mean absolute error between modeled and measured evapotranspiration was 42 mm or 6.0%; the least squares line through the origin had as lope of 1.00 and a correlation coefficient of 0.96. The model showed potential for a variety of applications including water yield modeling and recharge estimation. The model is a practical tool that can be readily used for assessing the long-term average effect of vegetation changes on catchment evapotranspiration and is scientifically justifiable.
  • Article
    In the context of global water scarcity and food security concerns, water footprints are emerging as an important sustainability indicator in the agriculture and food sectors. Using a recently developed life cycle assessment-based methodology that takes into account local water stress where operations occur, the normalized water footprints of milk products from South Gippsland, one of Australia's major dairy regions, were 14.4 L/kg of total milk solids in whole milk (at farm gate) and 15.8 L/kg of total milk solids in skim milk powder (delivered to export destination). These results demonstrate that dairy products can be produced with minimal potential to contribute to freshwater scarcity. However, not all dairy production systems are alike and the variability in water footprints between systems and products should be explored to obtain strategic insights that will enable the dairy sector to minimize its burden on freshwater systems from consumptive water use.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Livestock systems globally are changing rapidly in response to human population growth, urbanization, and growing incomes. This paper discusses the linkages between burgeoning demand for livestock products, growth in livestock production, and the impacts this may have on natural resources, and how these may both affect and be affected by climate change in the coming decades. Water and land scarcity will increasingly have the potential to constrain food production growth, with adverse impacts on food security and human well-being. Climate change will exacerbate many of these trends, with direct effects on agricultural yields, water availability, and production risk. In the transition to a carbon-constrained economy, livestock systems will have a key role to play in mitigating future emissions. At the same time, appropriate pricing of greenhouse gas emissions will modify livestock production costs and patterns. Health and ethical considerations can also be expected to play an increasing role in modifying consumption patterns of livestock products, particularly in more developed countries. Livestock systems are heterogeneous, and a highly differentiated approach needs to be taken to assessing impacts and options, particularly as they affect the resource-poor and those vulnerable to global change. Development of comprehensive frameworks that can be used for assessing impacts and analyzing trade-offs at both local and regional levels is needed for identifying and targeting production practices and policies that are locally appropriate and can contribute to environmental sustainability, poverty alleviation, and economic development.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    It is widely recognized that food consumption patterns significantly impact water requirements. The aim of this paper is to quantify how food consumption patterns influence water requirements in China. The findings show that per capita water requirement for food (CWRF) has increased from 255 m3 cap-1y−1 in 1961 to 860 m3 cap-1 y−1 in 2003, largely due to an increase in the consumption of animal products in recent decades. Although steadily increasing, the CWRF of China is still much lower than that of many developed countries. The total water requirement for food (TWRF) has been determined as 1127 km3 y-1 in 2003. Three scenarios are proposed to project future TWRF, representing low, medium, and high levels of modernization (S1, S2, and S3, respectively). Analysis of these three scenarios indicates that TWRF will likely continue to increase in the next three decades. An additional amount of water ranging between 407 and 515 km3 y-1 will be required in 2030 compared to the TWRF in 2003. This will undoubtedly put high pressure on China's already scarce water resources. We conclude that the effect of the food consumption patterns on China's water resources is substantial both in the recent past and in the near future. China will need to strengthen "green water" management and to take advantage of "virtual water" import to meet the additional TWRF
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