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Energies 2018, 11(2), 463; https://doi.org/10.3390/en11020463

A Comprehensive Energy Analysis and Related Carbon Footprint of Dairy Farms, Part 2: Investigation and Modeling of Indirect Energy Requirements

Department of Agricultural Science, University of Sassari, Viale Italia 39, 07100 Sassari, Italy
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Received: 22 December 2017 / Revised: 8 February 2018 / Accepted: 13 February 2018 / Published: 22 February 2018
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Abstract

Dairy cattle farms are continuously developing more intensive systems of management, which require higher utilization of durable and non-durable inputs. These inputs are responsible for significant direct and indirect fossil energy requirements, which are related to remarkable emissions of CO2. This study focused on investigating the indirect energy requirements of 285 conventional dairy farms and the related carbon footprint. A detailed analysis of the indirect energy inputs related to farm buildings, machinery and agricultural inputs was carried out. A partial life cycle assessment approach was carried out to evaluate indirect energy inputs and the carbon footprint of farms over a period of one harvest year. The investigation highlights the importance and the weight related to the use of agricultural inputs, which represent more than 80% of the total indirect energy requirements. Moreover, the analyses carried out underline that the assumption of similarity in terms of requirements of indirect energy and related carbon emissions among dairy farms is incorrect especially when observing different farm sizes and milk production levels. Moreover, a mathematical model to estimate the indirect energy requirements of dairy farms has been developed in order to provide an instrument allowing researchers to assess the energy incorporated into farm machinery, agricultural inputs and buildings. Combining the results of this two-part series, the total energy demand (expressed in GJ per farm) results in being mostly due to agricultural inputs and fuel consumption, which have the largest share of the annual requirements for each milk yield class. Direct and indirect energy requirements increased, going from small sized farms to larger ones, from 1302–5109 GJ·y−1, respectively. However, the related carbon dioxide emissions expressed per 100 kg of milk showed a negative trend going from class <5000 to >9000 kg of milk yield, where larger farms were able to emit 48% less carbon dioxide than small herd size farm (43 vs. 82 kg CO2-eq per 100 kg Fat- and Protein-Corrected Milk (FPCM)). Decreasing direct and indirect energy requirements allowed reducing the anthropogenic gas emissions to the environment, reducing the energy costs for dairy farms and improving the efficient utilization of natural resources. View Full-Text
Keywords: building and facilities; machinery; embodied Green House Gas (GHG) emissions; Life Cycle Assessment (LCA); milk building and facilities; machinery; embodied Green House Gas (GHG) emissions; Life Cycle Assessment (LCA); milk
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Todde, G.; Murgia, L.; Caria, M.; Pazzona, A. A Comprehensive Energy Analysis and Related Carbon Footprint of Dairy Farms, Part 2: Investigation and Modeling of Indirect Energy Requirements. Energies 2018, 11, 463.

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