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Mirzaei, M; Anari, MG; Saronjic, N; Sarkar, S; Kral, I; Gronauer, A; Mohammed, S; Caballero-Calvo, A.
(2023): Environmental impacts of corn silage production: influence of wheat residues under contrasting tillage management types
ENVIRON MONIT ASSESS. 2023; 195(1), 171 FullText FullText_BOKU

The intensification of specific land management operations (tillage, herbicide, etc.) is increasing land degradation and contributing to ecosystem pollution. Mulches can be a sustainable tool to counter these processes. This is particularly relevant for rural areas in low-income countries where agriculture is a vital sector. In this research, the environmental impact of different rates of wheat residues (no residues, 25, 50, 75, and 100%) in corn silage cultivation was evaluated using the life cycle assessment (LCA) method under conventional tillage (CT) and no-tillage (NT) systems in a semi-arid region in Karaj, Iran. Results showed that in both tillage systems, marine aquatic ecotoxicity (ME) and global warming potential (GWP) had the highest levels of pollution among the environmental impact indicators. In CT systems, the minimum (17,730.70 kg 1,4-dichlorobenzene (DB) eq.) and maximum (33,683.97 kg 1,4-DB eq.) amounts of ME were related to 0 and 100% wheat residue rates, respectively. Also, in the CT system, 0 and 100% wheat residue rates resulted in minimum (176.72 kg CO2 eq.) and maximum (324.95 kg CO2 eq.) amounts of GWP, respectively. However, in the NT system, the 100% wheat residue rate showed the minimum amounts of ME (11,442.39 kg 1,4-DB eq.) and GWP (120.21 kg CO2 eq.). Also, in the NT system, maximum amounts of ME (17,174 kg 1,4-DB eq.) and GWP (175.60 kg CO2 eq.) were observed with a zero wheat residue rate. On-farm emissions and nitrogen fertilizers were the two factors with the highest contribution to the degradation related to environmental parameters at all rates of wheat residues. Moreover, in the CT system, the number of environmental pollutants increased with the addition of a higher wheat residue rate, while in the NT system, increasing residue rates decreased the amount of environmental pollutants. In conclusion, this LCA demonstrates that the NT system with the full retention of wheat residues (100%) is a more environmentally sustainable practice for corn silage production. Therefore, it may be considered one of the most adequate management strategies in this region and similar semi-arid conditions. Further long-term research and considering more environmental impact categories are required to assess the real potential of crop residues and tillage management for sustainable corn silage production.
Authors BOKU Wien:
Gronauer Andreas
Kral Iris
Saronjic Nermina

Find related publications in this database (Keywords)
Sustainable agriculture
Crop residues
Life cycle assessment
Soil management

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