New master thesis project started: Environmental impacts of Swedish grain legumes

Student: Sanna Kruger Persson

Tentative title: Environmental impacts of Swedish grain legumes

What is your thesis work about?

The purpose of my thesis is to increase the knowledge about the environmental impact and resource use of the production of Swedish legumes. I will also investigate if there are potential benefits with producing legumes in Sweden compared to importing them.

To do this I will evaluate the Swedish production of legumes using life cycle assessment (LCA). LCA is a “cradle-to-grave” approach for assessing the environmental impact of products, processes, industrial systems. In my study, I will follow the production of legumes from when the seed is put into the soil to a dry product at the wholesaler is available. With the LCA approach it is possible to detect which part in the production chain that has the largest impact on the environment and then suggest improvements. Other than evaluating the greenhouse gas emissions, the eutrophication and acidification potentials, land and energy use, it is also of interest for this study to search for potential benefits of having the production in Sweden. For example, one thing that probably is good with growing legumes in Sweden is that the Swedish crop rotation is getting more diverse with a crop that is different from cereals, which is beneficial for many reasons.

Why is this work important and why do you think legumes are interesting?

Since we are facing a massive challenge from ongoing climate change, we need to change the way we live to reduce our impact on the climate, environment and natural resource use. One third of the climate impact from our households comes from what we are eating. Most of it comes from animal products like meat, fish and milk products. A vegetarian dish made of legumes has on average half the climate impact compared to a dish made of animal products. This means that one way to reduce our impact on the climate could be to eat more legumes. At the same time, some groups of the population in Sweden are eating more and more legumes and a lot of people value eating food produced in Sweden. This makes today an interesting time for this project.
Personally, I think the production of legumes is interesting and different compared to the cereals that are grown in Sweden. And, of course, I eat a lot of legumes which makes me particularly interested in this topic.

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