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Evaluating the ability of current energy use assessment methods to study contrasting livestock production systems

Vigne M., Vayssières J., Lecomte P., Peyraud J.L.. 2012. Journal of Environmental Management, 112 : p. 199-212.

Environmental impact assessment of agriculture has received increased attention over recent decades, leading to development of numerous methods. Among them, three deal with energy use: Energy Analysis (EA), Ecological Footprint (EF) and Emergy synthesis (Em). Based on a review of 197 references applying them to a variety of agricultural systems, this paper evaluates their ability to assess energy use. While EF assesses energy use as land use via a global accounting approach in which energy is only one component of the assessment, EA and Em are energy-focused and appear more appropriate to highlight ways to increase energy-use efficiency. EA presents a clear methodology via fossil energy use and its associated impacts but does not consider all energy sources. With inclusion of natural and renewable resources, Em focuses on other energy resources, such as solar radiation and energy from labour, but does not present impact indicators nor establish a clear link between activities and their environmental impacts. Improvements of the EA and Em methods could increase their ability to perform realistic and unbiased energy analysis or the diversity of livestock systems encountered in the world. First, to consider all energy sources, as Em does, EA could include solar radiation received by farm surfaces and energy expenditure by humans and animals to accomplish farm operations. Second, boundaries of the studied system in EA and Em must include draft animals, humans and communal grazing lands. Third, special attention should be given to update and locally adapt energy coefficients and transformities. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : technique analytique; source d'énergie; agriculture; bilan énergétique; analyse économique; impact sur l'environnement; consommation d'énergie; méthode d'élevage; Élevage; monde

Thématique : Elevage - Considérations générales; Ressources énergétiques et leur gestion

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