Spatially explicit nitrogen and phosphorus footprinting : Linking consumption activities to nutrient leaching risk for Brazilian soy production

University essay from Linköpings universitet/Tema Miljöförändring

Abstract: An increasing demand for food, and in particular animal products, is putting high pressure on natural resources, often at places distant from the consumption. Nitrogen and phosphorus are essential nutrients in food production but an excessive use can cause environmental impacts such as eutrophication that can harm ecosystems services vital to local communities. This study developed sub-national spatially explicit N and P footprints that were extended with an assessment of nutrient leaching risk and risk of impact on biodiversity. The consumption of N and P in Brazilian soybean production at municipal level was estimated for the whole of Brazil as well as for UK soybean demand. This was then combined with the risk of nutrient leaching (Nrisk and Prisk) and species richness (Nbio and Pbio). The results showed high Nbio and Pbio in Mato Grosso, Paraná, and Rio Grande do Sul. The same analysis of the effects of UK soybean demand showed a higher risk of impacts in Rondônia and less in Paraná and Rio Grande do Sul compared to total Brazilian soybean production. A municipal case study showed that the demand of Brazilian soybean in the UK, EU, and China generated different spatial patterns of impact risks at municipal level. Spatially explicit footprints that also encompass risks of impacts are important for being able to identify the responsible consumer and parts of the supply chain where sustainability interventions will be most effective. There are several opportunities for future development within this research field as data availability is continuingly increasing.

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