Abstract

The whole food system which involves agricultural production, food processing and packaging, distribution and retail as well as consumption requires inputs such as land, water, fertiliser, pesticides, herbicides and energy, which are responsible for environmental degradation. The main aim of this paper is to determine the size of the ecological footprint of grains consumption in Australia for evaluating the level of environmental sustainability. The ecological footprint methodology permits the monitoring of dominant threats to sustainability. One of the benefits of ecological footprint methodology is its capacity to distinguish between resources consumed and resources available and then reveal how ecologically sustainable those consumption patterns are. The study begins with an analysis of the ecological footprint of grain crops consumption, then analyses the biocapacity. The study concludes by making a comparison between ecological footprint and biocapacity and then assessing its sustainability of grain crops consumption. The paper uses both local and global yield data in terms of global hectare and local hectare respectively with inter-temporal time-series yield factors. This paper also uses production and consumption data on various grain crops. The refined method of determining the ecological footprint has provided a new assessment tool to gain insights into the environmental impacts of grain crops consumption. This method in this study had also highlighted the contribution of the EF as an indicator of environmental sustainability. Results indicate that the ecological footprint of grain consumption in Australia only exceeds biocapacity when the energy requirements of these crops are included in the evaluation. This study also reveals that that Australia’s grain consumption is unsustainable at the national scale, and still below the world-average ecological appropriation level. The size of the revealed ecological footprint are responsible for the amount of the grain consumption, energy inputs, the size of the population, the degree of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) gas emissions, and the amount of other farm inputs. This paper highlights the environmental significance of the ecological footprint of grain crops consumption in Australia. This paper also reinforces how intensely a sustainable future depends on the reshaping of the Australian grain industry. Finally, this paper discusses some of the implications of the method presented here for future footprint calculations and environmental sustainability. If Australia wants to shift to a smarter, more sustainable agricultural future; it must strive to shift to lower impact products and services, to increase the efficiency of the production through reducing energy inputs.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-2278
Print ISSN
0022-037X
Pages
pp. 49-60
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-22
Open Access
No
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