Environmental impact of agro-food production systems

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
AGR/09 AGR/19
Learning objectives
Provide information about principles and methodologies, with particular regard to the Life Cycle Assessment, for the evaluation of emissions, consumptions (materials and energy) and related environmental impacts of some agricultural production processes.
Expected learning outcomes
Knowledge about the environmental impact assessment of agricultural production processes and the identification of key-processes and potential mitigation strategies.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
Due to the COVID19, the lessons will be online, partly synchronous (teacher connected using TEAMS o ZOOM according to the scheduled timetable: Tuesday 13: 30-16: 30 and Thursday 9: 00-10: 30) and partly asynchronous (recorded lessons - powerpoint presentations with audio).
On the part of both teachers there is the willingness to organize, compatibly with the academic calendar, one or more discussions
Course syllabus
Definition of "sustainability" and its meaning for agro-food and agro-energy production systems
Description of the most updated methods for environmental impact assessment: (i) energy indicators, (ii) Life Cycle Assessment
Case studies of the main Italian agricultural processes
1 - Environmental sustainability: definition, different aspects of sustainability, Why to measure the sustainability? Issues and challenges of sustainability assessment
2 - Indicator of energetic performance: applicability and limits, the indexes EROEI (Energy Returned on Energy Invested) and CED (Cumulative Energy Demand);
3 Life Cycle Assessment. The holistic approach of life cycle: plus and minus, Why and when to apply LCA. The 4 steps of LCA:
GOAL AND SCOPE DEFINITION. Functional unit: definition, significance, applicative examples; System boundary: background, foreground and core processes, allocation
LIFE CYCLE INVENTORY. Inventory data collection: primary data (directly collected and measured) secondary data (databases and modelling of the main emissions sources of agricultural activities);
LCIA. Conversion of inventory data in environmental impact, selection of the impact categories, characterization and normalisation, sensitivity analysis; DATA INTERPRETATION: identification of environmental key-process for impact mitigation.
4 - Case studies and applicative examples of environmental impact assessment of: i) Cereal cultivation (maize and rice); ii) field operations; iii) dairy process (milk and cheese production), iv) beef production v) renewable energy production from biomass
Prerequisites for admission
Knowledge of the main agro-food chains
Teaching methods
Traditional Lectures (3 CFU)
Practices in classroom, homework, case study analysis (1 CFU).
Teaching Resources
Assessment methods and Criteria
oral exam
Unita' didattica 1
Practicals: 16 hours
Lessons: 16 hours
Professor: Bacenetti Jacopo
Unita' didattica 2
AGR/19 - ANIMAL SCIENCE - University credits: 1
Lessons: 8 hours
Professor: Zucali Maddalena