Environmental impacts of irrigated and rain-fed barley production in Iran using life cycle assessment (LCA)
Current intensive grain crops production is often associated with environmental burdens. However, very few studies deal with the environmental performance of both current and alternative systems of barley production. This study was undertaken to evaluate energy consumption and environmental impacts of irrigated and rain-fed barley production. Additionally, three alternative scenarios were examined for irrigated barley fields including conservation tillage and biomass utilization policies. The findings showed that around 25 GJ/ha energy is needed in order to produce 2300 kg/ha irrigated barley and 13 GJ/ha for 1100 kg/ha rain-fed barley. Life cycle assessment (LCA) results indicated that irrigated farms had more environmental impacts than rain-fed farms. Electricity generation and consumption had the highest effect on the abiotic depletion potential, human toxicity potential, freshwater and marine aquatic ecotoxicity potential. However, alternative scenarios revealed that using soil conservation tillage systems and biomass consumption vs. gas for electricity generation at power plants can significantly mitigate environmental impacts of irrigated barley production similar to the rain-fed conditions while higher yield is obtained.
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