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Life-Cycle Environmental Implications of Eco-labelling for Rice Farming Systems

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농업생명과학대학 생태조경·지역시스템공학부
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서울대학교 대학원
Life Cycle AssessmentSustainable agricultureEnvironmental impactEnvironmentally-Friendly Agricultural Products Certificate
학위논문 (석사)-- 서울대학교 대학원 : 생태조경·지역시스템공학부, 2017. 2. 손영환.
The regulations, standards, and certification systems for GHG reduction have recently been strengthened in response to climate change. In addition, environmental policies are being implemented pursuant to the 2015 Paris Agreement and in accordance with the reduction target of some countries.
Since the biggest goal in agriculture was pursued higher production until the 1990s, fertilizers and agricultural chemicals were used in abundance, which caused various environmental problems such as pest tolerance to insecticide, emissions of human and ecological toxic substances, and acidification of soil. Concern for such environmental problems began a movement toward sustainable agriculture. This concern has changed the paradigm of agricultural production systems from high input agriculture toward environmentally-friendly agriculture, which can minimize the environmental impact.
LCA methods began to be applied to the agricultural sector in 1996. Environmental impacts were evaluated for the production of single crops and/or inputs and outputs of agricultural materials including all materials used and produced in agriculture used until the 2000s. Since 2000, research has attempted to compare different agricultural production systems, such as conventional and organic systems. However, the majority of related studies focus only on the environmental impact of agricultural production activities, in particular on the effects on climate change due to the generation of GHG. It is difficult to find research on other environmental impact categories, despite the fact that many categories are affected by agriculture.
The present study aimed to address this lack of research by quantitatively evaluating the environmental impacts of the rice production process in an environmentally-friendly agricultural product certification system (low-pesticide, non-pesticide, and organic farming) using the LCA method and comparing it to the impacts of conventional rice farming. Based on the LCA framework standardized by the International Standards Organization ISO 14040 series, the environmental impacts of the rice farming systems were evaluated and these results were analyzed and compared to the environmental impacts of rice production systems based on published databases in the U.S. and Europe.
The LCA in this study was in compliance with the ISO 14040 standard as prescribed by the International Organization for Standardization. GaBi software was used for analysis. First, in the goal and scope definition stage, the functional unit of rice cultivation was set at the farming of 1 kg of rice. The system boundary was established to include all nursery seedlings, cultivation, and harvesting procedures to produce 1 kg of rice. To construct the domestic LCI in South Korea, the agricultural and livestock product production cost survey data of the Statistics Korea of 2014 and the agricultural and livestock products collected by the rural development agency (RDA) were used. In the case of chemical agricultural materials, the maximum value of the standard allowable value of the environmentally-friendly agricultural product certification system presented at Korea's Agricultural Products Quality Control Institute was used. In particular, an LCI for pesticide was constructed, especially in the case of synthetic pesticides, by using the pesticide-specific agricultural chemical information provided by the RDA, the source of the agricultural chemicals used for rice, the efficiency separating input, the analysis data of the air and water system, and the soil discharge route.
The climate change potential is evaluated as 1.01 kg CO2-equivalents (100%) in conventional farming, 0.701 kg CO2-equiv. (69%) in low-pesticide certified production, 0.537 kg CO2-equiv. (53%) in non-pesticide certified production, 0.234 kg CO2-equiv. (23%) in certified organic production. Based on the results, one can expect to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 327 tons per year if about 10% of the current 4.22 million tons of conventional rice production were done by organic certification.
The potential for acidification is about 51% lower than the existing, conventional farming (6.33E-04 mole of H+ equiv.) in certified organic production (3.13E-04 mole of H+ equiv.). Regarding the eutrophication potential in the aquatic system, the reduction effect of organic (6.47E-09 kg P-equiv.) was very large compared to conventional production (6.03E-06 kg P-equiv.). Rice cultivation based on environmentally-friendly agricultural certification system was shown to be effective for reducing environmental impacts on other environments, such as human toxicity, as compared to conventional cultivation.
As a result of normalization, it was shown that substances discharged in rice production have the greatest influence on human toxicity and climate change, of the various categories of environmental impact. With Weighting, the standard was set with "100" as conventional, the reduced pesticide certification (73.73), the pesticide certification (59.57), and organic certification (34.31).
The environmental impacts of the production of 1 kg of rice in South Korea, the United States, and Europe were compared based on LCI in the U.S. and Ecoinvent in Europe. With the United States as the standard (100), it was evaluated at 53.7 in Europe. In Korea, the results were 48.6 for conventionally cultivated rice, 35.8 for low pesticide cultivation, 28.9 for non-pesticide cultivation, and 16.7 for certified organic cultivation.
This research might be able to provide as basic reference for various agricultural policies such as marketing of agriculture and food enterprises in the future, environmental quality evaluation in the agricultural field, and environmentally-friendly agricultural direct payment. Especially, it is considered that active use can be made for improving the methodology and diffusion of environmental labels or carbon labeling system.
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