Carbon Footprinting and Life Cycle Assessment

Distance Learning course next offered January 2019


This module will provide critical insight into the calculation and interpretation of carbon footprints (CF) for livestock production systems. Students will gain detailed understanding of core carbon foot printing methodologies, in particular International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) good practice accounting for greenhouse gas emissions, and wider life cycle assessment (LCA) principles. The module will draw on a range of farm system case studies and will involve hands-on experience with online CF tools.

The module’s units consist of:

  • The role of Greenhouse Gases in climate change – quantifying environmental impacts of agriculture and defining the production-efficiency challenge.
  • An introduction to LCA and to CF – concepts, tools and databases.
  • LCA and CF system boundaries for farms – goal and scope definition, inventory data compilation.
  • Upstream processes – agrochemical manufacture, energy sources, feed production. 
  • Soil emissions – calculating emissions from fertiliser and manure applications and residue incorporation.    
  • Animal husbandry emissions – calculating emissions from manure management and enteric fermentation.
  • Land use change and farm level CF – calculating emissions from land-use change in relation to farm management changes; case study of anaerobic digestion. 
  • Allocation and consequential LCA – allocating emissions to milk and meat; accounting for indirect effects of management decisions.
  • Wider impact categories – life cycle impact assessment methods; water and biodiversity impacts.
  • Practical application of CF – interpretation, reporting, product labelling, and informing management.

Contributions from: Dr Dave Styles, Prof Dave Chadwick, Prof Jamie Newbold, Phil Humphrey, Prof Mike Christie, Campbell Skinner.

Student Comment: "...ways in which simple measures can mitigate impacts - which can be delivered onto farms/used as consultancy."   Lucy LeCocq, Vet.

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