Life cycle of the corn-soybean agroecosystem for biobased production

Amy E. Landis, Shelie A. Miller, Thomas L. Theis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Biobased product life cycle assessments (LCAs) have focused largely on energy (fossil fuel) usage and greenhouse gas emissions during the agriculture and production stages. This paper compiles a more comprehensive life cycle inventory (LCI) for use in future bioproduct LCAs that rely on corn or soybean crops as feedstocks. The inventory includes energy, C, N, P, major pesticides, and U.S. EPA criteria air pollutants that result from processes such as fertilizer production, energy production, and on-farm chemical and equipment use. Agroecosystem material flows were modeled using a combination of GREET (the Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation model), a linear fractionation model that describes P biogeochemical cycling, and Monte Carlo Analysis. Results show that the dominant air emissions resulted from crop farming, fertilizers, and on-farm nitrogen flows (e.g., N2O and NO). Seed production and irrigation provided no more than 0.002% to any of the inventory emissions or energy flows and may be neglected in future LCAs of corn or soybeans as feedstocks from the U.S. Corn Belt. Lime contributes significantly (17% of total emissions) to air emissions and should not be neglected in bioproduct LCAs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1457-1464
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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