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Suitability of operational N direct field emissions models to represent contrasting agricultural situations in agricultural LCA: review and prospectus

Abstract : N biogeochemical flows and associated N losses exceed currently planetary boundaries and represent a major threat for sustainability. Measuring N losses is a resource-intensive endeavour, and not suitable for ex-ante assessments, thus modelling is a common approach for estimating N losses associated with agricultural scenarios (systems, practices, situations). The aim of this study is to review some of the N models commonly used for estimating direct field emissions of agricultural systems, and to assess their suitability to agricultural systems featuring organo-mineral or organic fertilisation, non-arable crops, or happening under tropical and subtropical conditions. Simple N models were chosen based on their frequent use in LCA, following a literature review, including ecoinvent v3, Indigo-N v1/v2, AGRIBALYSE v1.2/v1.3, and the Mineral fertiliser equivalents (MFE) calculator. Model sets were contrasted, among them and with the dynamic crop model STICS, regarding their consideration of the biophysical processes determining N losses to the environment from agriculture, namely plant uptake, nitrification, denitrification, NH 3 volatilisation, NO 3 leaching, erosion and runoff , and N 2 O emission to air; using four reference agricultural datasets. Models' consideration of management drivers such as crop rotations and the allocation of fertilisers and emissions among crops in a crop rotation, overfertilisation and fertilisation technique, were also contrasted, as well as their management of the mineralisation of soil organic matter and organic fertilisers, and of drainage regimes. We highlighted the reasons for the differing model outputs. Among these models, Indigo-N is the most data intensive, and ecoinvent the least. For the four agricultural datasets, the ecoinvent model predicted significantly lower values for NH 3 than the AGRIBALYSE and the STICS models. For N 2 O, no significant differences were found among models. For NO 3 , the ecoinvent and AGRIBALYSE models predicted significantly higher emissions than the STICS model, regardless of the fertilisation regime. For both emissions, values of Indigo-N were close to those of the STICS model. By analysing the reasons for such differences, and the underlying factors considered by models, a list of recommendations was produced regarding more accurate ways to model N losses (by including, for instance, the main drivers regulating emissions).
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Submitted on : Thursday, October 7, 2021 - 9:53:00 AM
Last modification on : Friday, September 23, 2022 - 4:41:59 PM
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Angel Avadí, Victor Galland, Antoine Versini, Christian Bockstaller. Suitability of operational N direct field emissions models to represent contrasting agricultural situations in agricultural LCA: review and prospectus. Science of the Total Environment, Elsevier, 2022, 802, pp.149960. ⟨10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.149960⟩. ⟨hal-03368478⟩



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