Dr. Niels Halberg
International Centre for Research in Organic Food Systems
P.O. Box 50
8830 Tjele
Tel. +45 8715 8037


Lise Andreasen
International Coordinator
International Centre for Research in Organic Food Systems (ICROFS)
Foulum, P.O. Box 50
DK-8830 Tjele
Tel. +45 89 99 18 23
Fax +45 89 99 16 73


Dr. Andreas Gattinger
Subject leader climate
Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL
Ackerstrasse 113
5070 Frick
Tel. +41 865 7272
Fax +41 865 7273
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RTOACC Workshop 2: Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Bari, Italy, September 21, 2010

About the workshop

The international expert workshop on 'Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) - methods, models, and databases with focus on GHG emission and sequestration potential of organic farming systems and organic food was held in Bari, Italy on September 21, 2010.

The workshop, organized by ICROFS - the International Centre for Research in Organic Food Systems - was part of a series of meetings of the Round Table for Organic Agriculture and Climate Change (RTOACC) and was supported by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It was held back-to-back with LCA Food 2010 - the 7th International Conference on Life Cycle Assessment in the Agri-food Sector.

Some of the methodological challenges when using LCA are specifically problematic when applying LCA to organic agriculture. Some of the problems include estimating and accounting for changes in soil organic matter (soil carbon sequestration), accounting for nutrient and environmental load from imported manure, and for crop rotation effects and land use. Moreover, since the sector is relatively small, challenges in securing representative data are difficult to avoid.

The objective of the workshop was to exchange in-depth scientific knowledge on improved Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methods, models, and databases focusing on GHG emissions and sequestration potential of organic farming systems and organic food. This information is useful for organic sector organisations and operators to develop certification systems and energy and carbon labels and to reduce the climate impact of the organic sector.


09:30: Welcome and introduction to programme and tasks (111.3 KB) – Dr. Niels Halberg, Director, International Centre for Research in Organic Food Systems (ICROFS), Denmark

09:45: Current status on LCA as applied to the organic food chains: results, knowledge gaps and methodological challenges (1.6 MB) – Dr. John E. Hermansen, Head of Research Unit, University of Aarhus, Denmark & Dr. Niels Halberg, ICROFS

10:15: Characteristics in low-input and organic farming systems in tropical countries relevant for soil organic matter building and of importance for crediting climate mitigations (4.7 MB) – Dr. Shamie Zingore, Regional Director, Africa, International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI), Kenya

10:45: Coffee/tea break

11:00: State-of-the-art concerning carbon sequestration in organic agriculture versus emission of GHG and potential for climate mitigation compensation (701.1 KB) – Report by Dr. Andreas Gattinger, Subject Leader climate, FiBL, Schwitzerland and Chair of Round Table for Organic Agriculture and Climate Change (RTOACC)

11:30: Data & inventories relevant for LCA of organic agriculture & food systems (513.4 KB) – Dr. Adrian Williams, Principal Research Fellow, School of Applied Sciences, Cranfield University, UK

12:00 Comments-discussions-agreement on overall list and structure of problematic issues/sub-topics for the group discussions relevant for the expected outcome of the workshop – and formation of groups

13:00: Lunch

14:30: Group discussions – suggested topics (incl. coffee/tea)

a) Manure and energy import versus self-reliance: implications for indirect land use change in LCA perspective

b) Carbon sequestration and soil organic matter increase: importance under different conditions and potential for compensation

c) Relative differences in GHG emissions from organic versus conventional agriculture systems

d) Demands for inventories and documentation for LCA-based carbon labelling (Discussion Leaders and – Raporteurs to be confirmed)

The four group discussions focussed on selected core problematic issues and will try to answer the following questions: 

  • What is the current status of knowledge
  • What are comparative advantages/disadvantages of OA compared with conventional agriculture within this specific sub-topic?
  • List the 3 most important methodologies and data source challenges for documenting this sub-topic of OA with LCA 

16:30: Plenum – Discussion and agreement on status of current knowledge and a common research agenda for development of LCA methodology and inventories consistent to organic farming systems

17:30: Closure

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Workshop contact

  • Niels Halberg, ICROFS, Tjele, Denmark
  • Lise Andreasen, ICROFS, Denmark

Contact Round Table on Organic Agriculture and Climate Change RTOACC

  • Andreas Gattinger, FiBL, Frick, Switzerland

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