Benchmarking environmental and operational parameters through eco-efficiency criteria for dairy farms

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Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is often used for the environmental evaluation of agri-food systems due to its holistic perspective. In particular, the assessment of milk production at farm level requires the evaluation of multiple dairy farms to guarantee the representativeness of the study when a regional perspective is adopted. This article shows the joint implementation of LCA and Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) in order to avoid the formulation of an average farm, therefore preventing standard deviations associated with the use of average inventory data while attaining the characterization and benchmarking of the operational and environmental performance of dairy farms. Within this framework, 72 farms located in Galicia (NW Spain) were subject to an LCA. +. DEA study which led to identify those farms with an efficient operation. Furthermore, target input consumption levels were benchmarked for each inefficient farm, and the corresponding target environmental impacts were calculated so that eco-efficiency criteria were verified. Thus, average reductions of up to 38% were found for input consumption levels, leading to impact reductions above 20% for every environmental impact category. Finally, the economic savings arising from efficient farming practices were also estimated. Economic savings of up to 0.13. £ per liter of raw milk were calculated, which means extra profits of up to 40% of the final raw milk price. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.




Iribarren, D., Hospido, A., Moreira, M. T., & Feijoo, G. (2011). Benchmarking environmental and operational parameters through eco-efficiency criteria for dairy farms. Science of the Total Environment, 409(10), 1786–1798.

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