Five new projects to the group!

Formas has recenely granted the group four new projects and the Swedish Energy Agency one. They are described shortly below.

Loss of beef during primary production in Sweden: quantities, causes, food potential and carbon footprint and economically assessed measures.

PI: Ingrid Strid, 

Budget: 8 million SEK

Project period: 2021-2025

Summary: Reduced food loss and waste is one of the UNs sustainable development goals and has been identified as one of three major strategies to keep the food system within the planetary boundaries. There is an urgent need for practical and efficient solutions to tackle the food loss and waste problem. In addition, food loss data is scarce, but necessary for finding hot spots and monitor progress. The aim of this project is to quantify food loss during primary production at Swedish dairy and beef farms, to investigate root causes for losses by identifying risk factors and test their degree of correlation and by interviewing farmers and experts, to set up scenarios for preventive and valorizing measures and to do life cycle assessments of those scenarios. The most innovative contribution from the project will be the design of a reintroduced emergency slaughter system based on remote online ante mortem inspection of acutely injured animals for the purpose of harvesting this food potential. On a request from our non-scientific partners we will have several dissemination events. Seminars will focus on quantified data, risk factors and root causes (1; 2023), the setup and consequences of a reintroduced emergency slaughter system in Sweden (2; 2024) and food potential and environmental impact of preventing animal losses at farms (3; 2025). The project will work closely with the SLU communication platform Future Food, and present results at scientific conferences, such as LCA Food 2024.

How do we achive fossil-free agriculture in Sweden?

PI: Per-Anders Hansson,

Budget: 8 million SEK

Project period: 2021-2025

Summary: A transition of agriculture to be fossil-free is probably the most important step of all in the creation of a sustainable food supply system. However, even if the goal is strongly supported by national as well as international policies, very little is known on how this actually should be done in practise, e.i. the process for agriculture to be fossil-free. This project will provide key insights into how Swedish agriculture can adopt fossile-free production, what the economic and environmental consequences will be, what behavioural drivers or barriers may affect adoption and how policy can support the transition.  The project will also assess the potential to increase farm production resilience by adaptation of fossil-free energy supply systems. We will work in an interdisciplinary research approach together with company actors and farmers. The project is organised in five interlinked WPs where competencies in energy systems, time dynamic life cycle assessment (LCA), agricultural economics models and experiments, and behavioural insights and psychometric methods are combined. The project is designed as two interlinked PhD projects (one in technology and one in agricultural economics). The work will apply to both conventional and certified organic production systems and we will develop systems for crop as well as livestock farms.

How does Swedish food production affect biodiversity? Development of assessment methods at product level.

PI: Elin Röös,

Budget: 3.9 million SEK

Project period: 2022-2025

Summary: Environmental product footprinting of food based on life cycle assessment is widely used in decision making, but the environmental aspects included are often limited to the climate impact. This is too narrow a perspective and risks steering in the wrong direction – more aspects need to be included. As agriculture is a main driver of biodiversity loss, neglecting to include biodiversity as an impact category for food is especially problematic. Available methods to include impacts on biodiversity in LC A are less advanced than those used to assess the climate impact and more research in this area is urgently needed. In this project, we will establish biodiversity characterisation factors for Sweden that consider species richness, functional diversity, landscape effects and different reference situations, and test these in case studies comparing organic and conventional crop production, and extensive and intensive beef production. Large Swedish biodiversity datasets available from environmental monitoring systems, peer-reviewed studies and yet unpublished data will be consolidated and used for this purpose. The project thus aims at making biodiversity data useful in current decision making at policy, business and consumer level, and at advancing methods for doing so, hence contributing to generalisable scientific advances in the field. This interdisciplinary project will be carried out by leading LC A experts and ecologists, working closely with a large stakeholder group.

Biodiversity and food production in semi-natural pastures. Methods and scenarios to handle multi-functionality in environmental assessments.

PI: Johan Karlsson; Elin Röös and Per-Anders Hansson,

Budget: 2.9 million SEK

Project period: 2022-2024

Summary: In this project we will address the important and unresolved goal conflicts between conservation of biodiversity in semi-natural pastures, efficient use of arable land for food production and climate mitigation. Semi-natural pastures throughout Europe have been shaped by traditional farming with constant removal of nutrients through hay-making and grazing and without fertilization or ploughing. These lands hold great biological and cultural values ​​and are key biotopes for biodiversity conservation of red-listed species. As agriculture has intensified, large areas of semi-natural pastures and meadows have been lost and today the status of the majority of Sweden’s grassland biotopes is poor. While more of these lands, and hence animals, are needed to conserve biodiversity, ruminant livestock also contribute considerably to climate change and cropland use – a need to balance many aspects arise. We will develop novel methods for environmental assessment of grazing-based meat and milk that can handle both landscape aspects and related ecosystem services, climate impact and resource use, and test these on real farms. We will also, in close cooperation with stakeholders, develop scenarios for how conservation of semi-natural pastures in Sweden can be achieved while minimizing climate impacts and cropland use for feed production. The climate impact, cropland use, fossil and renewable energy use as well as nutrients flows will be quantified in the scenarios.

Biochar stability validation – reaching a new level of understanding and transparency

PI: Cecilia Sundberg,

Budget: 5.6 million SEK

Project period: 2022-2025

Summary: Biochar produced from biomass has large potential to provide negative greenhouse gas emissions as a stable carbon sink in soil. A major hurdle for biochar market establishment is the limited knowledge about the stability of biochar over longer time periods. In this project, the knowledge is strengthened by performing field trials, incubation trials and novel analysis of available data. The project will involve Swedish and international biochar stakeholders and will develop guidelines for estimation of biochar stability based on biochar origin, properties, and use. Since this topic requires long-term research, field trials are established, planned for long-term analysis, as well as a web app for analysis of future research results. The project can be important for the development of biochar in voluntary markets and policy for carbon dioxide removal, also known as negative emissions.

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