Research Progress of life cycle assessment on agriculture (农业生命周期评价研究进展)

XU Xiangbo, SUN Mingxing*, ZHANG Linxiu

Journal Title: Acta Ecologica Sinica (生态学报)

Volume/Issue/Page: Volume 41, Issue 1, January 2021

Published Time: January 2020


As an effective tool for evaluating the environmental impact of production system from cradle to grave, the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method has been widely used in relevant studies on the industrial sector. The agricultural sector is also accompanied by high⁃intensity resource and environmental pressures, and the application of LCA in agriculture has emerged. This paper aims to review the existing research in agricultural LCA, identify the problems of the application of LCA in agriculture, and make recommendations for the future development of agricultural LCA. At present, several challenges exist in agricultural LCAs: unclear definitions of system boundary and functional unit, lack of regional inventory databases, inaccurate life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) model in reflecting the environmental impact of the agricultural system, and misunderstanding in the interpretation of the results. In order to scientifically and accurately measure the environmental impacts of agricultural systems and promote their sustainable development, the article advocates that the agricultural LCA should strengthen research from the following aspects: the scientific setting of the reference system, expansion of system boundaries and rational selection of functional units, construction of the regionally heterogeneous database and development of LCIA model, development of LCA on organizational agriculture, and research on stakeholder behaviors.

Keywords: agriculture; life cycle assessment (LCA); life cycle inventory (LCI); life cycle impact assessment (LCIA)

Corresponding author: Mingxing Sun,

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