This study investigated options to account for multifunctionality of dairy cattle within the LCA method. A methodological pathway to account for multiple products and services was developed.
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is an acknowledged environmental impact assessment tool to calculate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of dairy production. The present study investigated options to account for multifunctionality within the LCA method. A methodological pathway to account for multiple products and services was developed. Such are included in the functional unit, using two allocation techniques, i.e. economic allocation and an allocation based on farmers` motivations. To investigate constraints and opportunities of the LCA methodology, field research was done in Kaptumo, Kenya from September 2012 to January 2013. In the 20 study farms the functions milk, meat, manure used as fertilizer, cattle as insurance, cattle as a mean of financing, and socio-cultural values associated with cattle such as cultural identity, social status and cultural practices as dowry were identified. Total GHG emissions resulted in a mean of 6.795 kg y-1 CO2-equivalents (1.243-21.842) per farm. Carbon Footprints (CF) of milk production were on average 2.1, 1.7 and 1.1 kg CO2-equivalents per kg of milk applying no allocation, economic allocation to functions (milk, meat, manure as fertiliser, insurance and financing) and allocation based on farmers` motivations, respectively. Within the LCA methodology it is possible to account for multifunctionality, but there are limitations due to the intangible socio-cultural characteristic of some of the cattle functions. Ignorance regarding systems as the discussed smallholder, mixed systems often leads to a distorted view on results, as the common methodological frame of LCA and common mitigation options do not fit the reality of those systems. For future LCA research on dairy systems characterised by multifunctionality it is recommended to pay more attention to the multifunctional aspects of a production system, because CF results and consequently conclusions change depending on the functions included in LCA. When aiming at mitigation options that have a chance of adoption, GHG emissions alone are not an argument for intervention, but mitigation strategies must be discussed within the development context and in face of economic opportunities and constraints of farmers.
Student: VM Weiler
Supervisor: dr ir H Udo