Encouraging the sustainability of small and medium-sized agri-food companies and increasing their competitiveness will be possible thanks to a new specialised software tool due to be developed within the framework of the AGROLCA manager project. This piece of environmental software will enable companies in the primary sector to analyse the life-cycle of their products so that they can help to improve the management of the use of resources during the product´s design and development phase, and contribute towards cutting waste generation. Other fundamental aspects of the initiative involve being able to set up the carbon footprint monitoring of the products and to help to improve agricultural land health.
To contribute towards life cycle analysis, AGROLCA manager will monitor each of the phases in the value chain of a product and will estimate the potential environmental impacts, which, in turn, will allow strategies to be designed to reduce them. The elements analysed by the software are taken into account in the form of inputs and outputs. Inputs include the use of resources and raw materials, transport, electricity and energy used in each production phase. The estimated emissions into the air, water and soil plus the waste and by-products generated are classed as outputs.
The AGROLCA manager tool will be adapted to the characteristics of the primary sector, and will highlight, in particular, environmental aspects like nitrogen leaching in water or the application of plant protection products, as well as the needs of each company in particular, bearing in mind the environmental situation, the company’s level of compliance with the legislation in force, and will offer data on the potential for the eco-innovation of its products.
As an example of its application, its usefulness in the wine sector can be cited. The software will cover all the phases in wine production: the field phase, the bodega process, marketing and waste management. In the initial phase, the producer can monitor aspects like pruning, fertilizer application or plant protection treatments. In the bodega process, parameters like grape reception, alcoholic fermentation, bottling and ageing in barrels are taken into account. As regards marketing, AGROLCA manager handles aspects like the distribution of the product locally, nationally and internationally. In the area of waste management, aspects like waste collecting and recycling as well as energy recovery and controlled disposal are taken into account.
Environmental impact of agricultural production
The industrial agri-food sector is aware of the need to substantially improve its production systems not only from the point of view of the effective use of resources, but also from that of the possible environmental impact that these intensive systems generate in the environment. According to a report drawn up by the organisations participating in the project, the main solutions involve influencing the management of agricultural production in particular, and energy savings. That is why the application of Life-Cycle Analysis (LCA) emerged as a key tool in the primary sector in order to minimize environmental impact.
The development and advances in the results of the project can be checked out over the website http://www.agrolcamanager.com
ParticipantsNEIKER-Tecnalia (Basque Institute for Agricultural Research and Development). Public Corporation of the Environment Department of the Basque Government to improve productivity and competitiveness of agricultural production systems, and innovate in the application of new management technologies. www.neiker.eus
IKT (Nekazal Ikerketa Teknologia eta). Organization specializing in consulting and engineering services for the food sector and rural areas. www.ikt.es
IK Engineering. Consultant specializing in eco-design – environmental innovation of products and / or services, sustainable building and environmental technical training and management companies pública.www.ik-ingenieria.com