Subproject 3

Indicators for agricultural and other land-based production systems
Forest makes way for farmland in Acre, Brazil. Photo: Kate Evans / CIFOR / Flickr
Forest makes way for farmland in Acre, Brazil. Photo: Kate Evans / CIFOR / Flickr


Subproject 3 is developing environmental extensions to the PRINCE framework in order to develop indicators for pressures linked to agricultural and other land-based production systems (especially timber). Specifically, it looks at:

  • how changes in the way land is used affect overall greenhouse gas emissions, primarily the carbon emissions resulting from forests being replaced by agricultural land;
  • environmental pressures linked to the release of nutrients associated with land-based production – particularly nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizers and manure – which can cause eutrophication. Other sources of these substances, including wastewater and emissions to air, will also be counted;
  • release of greenhouse gases other than CO2 from livestock rearing (e.g. methane from enteric fermentation and manure handling, along with nitrous oxide from manure handling and fertilized agricultural soils).

Read a blogpost by Christel Cederberg on the challenges of measuring the Swedish food consumption footprint within PRINCE.

The team

The Subproject 3 team is led by Christel Cederberg of Chalmers University of Technology.

Key activities

  • All three strands of research will include gathering, assessing and refining available data sets; compiling them into environmental extension databases compatible with the PRINCE framework defined in Subproject 2; and reporting on data refinements, gaps and additions.

  • Developing an indicator for emissions effects of land-use change will involve calculating carbon emissions using remote sensing data on land-use change and carbon stocks in cleared vegetation, using methodologies recently developed by consortium members.

  • Developing eutrophying footprints is a relatively recent phenomenon, and most attempts have been linked to food production. This work will involve determining the most appropriate measures for nitrogen and phosphorus for consumption-based modeling, as well as integrating this data with on other sources of eutrophying chemicals.


  • Data tables on all three sets of emissions

  • Scientific paper documenting the agricultural system data improvements and integration within a consumption-based accounting framework, with preliminary results for Sweden

  • Summary report on the work package

Recommended reading

Emissions from land-use change

Cederberg, C., Persson, U. M., Neovius, K., Molander, S. and Clift, R. (2011). Including carbon emissions from deforestation in the carbon footprint of Brazilian beef. Environmental Science & Technology, 45(5). 1773–79. DOI:10.1021/es103240z.

Henders, S., Persson, U. M. and Kastner, T. (2015). Trading Forests: land-use change and carbon emissions embodied in production and exports of forest-risk commodities. Environmental Research Letters (in press).

Karstensen, J., Peters, G. P. and Andrew, R. M. (2013). Attribution of CO 2 emissions from Brazilian deforestation to consumers between 1990 and 2010. Environmental Research Letters, 8(2). 024005. DOI:10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/024005.

Persson, U. M., Henders, S. and Cederberg, C. (2014). A method for calculating a land-use change carbon footprint (LUC-CFP) for agricultural commodities: applications to Brazilian beef and soy, Indonesian palm oil. Global Change Biology, 20(11). 3482–91. DOI:10.1111/gcb.12635.

Eutrophying nutrients

Leach, A. M., Galloway, J. N., Bleeker, A., Erisman, J. W., Kohn, R. and Kitzes, J. (2012). A nitrogen footprint model to help consumers understand their role in nitrogen losses to the environment. Environmental Development, 1(1). 40–66. DOI:10.1016/j.envdev.2011.12.005.

Leip, A., Weiss, F., Lesschen, J. P. and Westhoek, H. (2014). The nitrogen footprint of food products in the European Union. The Journal of Agricultural Science, 152(S1). 20–33. DOI:10.1017/S0021859613000786.

Metson, G. S., Bennett, E. M. and Elser, J. J. (2012). The role of diet in phosphorus demand. Environmental Research Letters, 7(4). 044043. DOI:10.1088/1748-9326/7/4/044043.

Sutton, M. A., Howard, C. M., Erisman, J. W., Billen, G., Bleeker, A., Grennfelt, P., van Grinsven, H. and Grizzetti, B., eds. (2011). The European Nitrogen Assessment: Sources, Effects and Policy Perspective. Cambridge University Pres, Cambridge, UK.

Xue, X. and Landis, A. E. (2010). Eutrophication potential of food consumption patterns. Environmental Science & Technology, 44(16). 6450–56. DOI:10.1021/es9034478.

Non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions

Cederberg, C., Flysjö, A., Sonesson, U., Sund, V. and Davis, J. (2009). Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Swedish Consumption of Meat, Milk and Eggs 1990 and 2005. SIK Report, 794. Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology, Gothenburg.

Cederberg, C., Sonesson, U., Henriksson, M., Sund, V. and Davis, J. (2009). Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Swedish Production of Meat, Milk and Eggs 1990 and 2005. SIK Report, 793. Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology, Gothenburg.

Gerber, P. J., Steinfled, H., Henderson, B., Mottet, A., Opio, C., Dijkman, J., Falcucci, A. and Tempio, G. (2013). Tackling Climate Change through Livestock: A Global Assessment of Emissions and Mitigation Opportunities. UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome.

Leip, A., Weiss, F., Wassenaar, T., Perez, I., Fellman, T., et al. (2010). Evaluation of the Livestock Sector’s Contribution to the EU Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GGELS): Final Report. European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Ispra, Italy.