Vagnoni, Enrico and Franca, Antonello and Breedveld, Leo and Porqueddu, Claudio and Ferrara, Romano and Duce, Pierpaolo (2015) Environmental performances of Sardinian dairy sheep production systems at different input levels. Science of The Total Environment, Vol. 502 , p. 354-361. eISSN 1879-1026. Article.
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Although sheep milk production is a significant sector for the European Mediterranean countries, it shows serious competitiveness gaps. Minimizing the ecological impacts of dairy sheep farming systems could represent a key factor for farmers to bridging the gaps in competitiveness of such systems and also obtaining public incentives. However, scarce is the knowledge about the environmental performance of Mediterranean dairy sheep farms. The main objectives of this paper were (i) to compare the environmental impacts of sheep milk production from three dairy farms in Sardinia (Italy), characterized by different input levels, and (ii) to identify the hotspots for improving the environmental performances of each farm, by using a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) approach. The LCA was conducted using two different assessment methods: Carbon Footprint-IPCC and ReCiPe end-point. The analysis, conducted “from cradle to gate”, was based on the functional unit 1 kg of Fat and Protein Corrected Milk (FPCM). The observed trends of the environmental performances of the studied farming systems were similar for both evaluation methods. The GHG emissions revealed a little range of variation (from 2.0 to 2.3 kg CO2-eq per kg of FPCM) with differences between farming systems being not significant. The ReCiPe end-point analysis showed a larger range of values and environmental performances of the low-input farm were significantly different compared to the medium- and high-input farms. In general, enteric methane emissions, field operations, electricity and production of agricultural machineries were the most relevant processes in determining the overall environmental performances of farms.
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