Using LCA in a participatory eco-design approach in agriculture: the example of vineyard management
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The paper shows how three tools based on life cycle assessment (LCA) were created for an eco-design approach in viticulture, how these tools contributed to the reduction of environmental impacts of technical management routes (TMR), and how they have been used in real-life conditions during workshops organized with two different groups of winegrowers and extension officers in this purpose. This paper is among the first to explore the use of LCA in participatory approaches in agriculture.
The eco-design approach contains two main phases: (i) suggestion of more eco-efficient solutions by the participants based on their understanding of LCA results of a TMR and (ii) eco-design of the TMR based on initial operations from the case study and alternative operations generated during the previous phase. Three challenges have been identified to use LCA in this approach: (i) making LCA results understandable for participants, (ii) enabling easy manipulation of LCI data and modularity of LCA results, and (iii) need for live LCA results during the collective design process. Three tools have been created to fulfil these objectives: (i) a specific format to display LCA results during workshops, (ii) a “serious game” to build new TMRs, and (iii) a simplified calculation tool to evaluate TMRs.
Results and discussion
Four out of the five case studies explored with these tools were actually improved at the end of the participatory eco-design approach. The specific format used to display LCA results helped identifying the most impactful operations within initial TMRs. The “serious game” stimulated discussions between participants about alternative operations. Representing unit operations with cards was successful to engage participants in the eco-design process. Finally, eco-design parameters available in the “live” LCA tool allowed participants to improve consistency of unit operations with reality and to discuss how to optimize these parameters in order to both reduce environmental impacts and meet the (agronomic, economic, and organizational) requirements of winegrowers. Several limits concerning the use of weighting and single score and the system boundaries are highlighted.
The created tools made it possible to guide discussions towards improving the most impactful practices while allowing other practice changes to be integrated. The proposed approach and the challenges identified for the creation of the tools seem relevant for transposition to other agricultural production sectors. However, while the annual and plot/field scale is interesting for engaging farmers in the production process, larger temporal and geographic scales can help to better integrate certain decision criteria.
KeywordsEco-design tools Farming system design Innovative design Life cycle assessment Participatory approach Technical management routes Viticulture
The authors would like to thank winegrowers and extension officers who participated to the workshops, winegrowers who provided data about their viticultural practices, and all people who contributed to the preparation and the execution of the workshops.
Agence De l’Environnement et de la Maîtrise de l’Energie (ADEME) and Région Pays de la Loire provided financial support.
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