11 Apr 2019

LCA Feed databases: what are the differences?

Agri-footprint, EC Feed LCI database, GFLI database and Feedprint NL/International

We develop several LCA databases on feed ingredients and regularly receive questions from companies, industry associations and other organisations about the differences between these databases. Here we tell you more about these databases and highlight the differences. The databases are:

  • Agri-footprint 4.0

  • EC Feed Database

  • Global Feed LCA Institute (GFLI) database

  • Feedprint NL 2.0

  • Feedprint International

Overview of the databases

In most cases the foreground/activity data (specific data that defines a production system) in these databases is the same, but they differ in scope and the calculation methods used.

Agri-footprint 4.0: This is a life cycle inventory (LCI) database for the agriculture and food sector. Version 4.0, released in 2017, contains data on approximately 3000 products and processes. It contains many datasets on cultivation, transport, food processing and fertiliser production. The background databases used are the ELCD and USLCI databases. Agri-footprint can be used as a background database for studying agricultural and food products in general and as such its scope is broader than feed alone. Agri-footprint 5.0 is expected to be released in the summer of 2019.

EC Feed database: This database is generated from a selection of existing datasets that have been partially remodelled to fulfil the requirements of the European Commission for drafting a Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) compliant database. It contains 760 different feed materials used in the European market. The main difference from all the other databases is that this database is connected to PEF compliant background datasets (e.g. energy, transport).

GFLI-database: This database is provided by the Global Feed LCA Institute (GFLI). One of the institute’s projects is to make available an LCA feed database containing datasets for feed ingredients. The database covers all the deliverables of the EC Feed database plus new additions from USDA and Canadian crop data and updates on feed materials from fish products. The database covers 162 more products than the EC Feed database. The modelling is the same as Agri-footprint 4.0 and many of the GFLI datasets are also published in Agri-footprint 4.0.

Feedprint NL 2.0: Feedprint 2.0 is an update of the first Feedprint version, which was released in 2013. The scope of this interactive tool is feed ingredients that are available on the Dutch market, covering 274 different feed products in total. The information on each raw material includes market mix data, with cultivation data from 60 different countries. Nevedi, the Dutch feed industry association, shares the impact data generated from the Feedprint LCI data to companies in a separate list. This Nevedi list is updated in response to questions from feed companies on missing ingredients and is growing rapidly. At some point these data will be implemented as an updated list in Feedprint.

Feedprint International: This is the international version of Feedprint NL. It is very similar to Feedprint NL, but has the European Union market as scope. It contains 134 products, each containing their own mixes and multiple cultivation data. The number of products is lower than in Feedprint NL, since specific Dutch feed materials, roughage and grasses are excluded from the international database.

Main differences between the databases

The method of collecting activity data (e.g. yield, NPK and water use) is very similar for each of the databases. The main differences are in scope, system boundaries, background data, activity data collection, energy use modelling, pesticides modelling and crop residues modelling. .

  • Background data: the same background data (ELCD, USLCI and Agri-footprint) are used in all the databases except the EC Feed database, which uses PEF compliant background datasets on energy and fertiliser production.
  • Energy use at cultivation stage: Agri-footprint, EC Feed database and the GFLI database use the MEBOT database as the main source for energy use on farm. Feedprint NL and International use a new energy model, the ‘Energy model for crop cultivations’ developed in co-operation between Wageningen University and Blonk Consultants. The model uses the most recent specific indicators, such as yield, mechanisation factors and irrigation, to determine the energy use at cultivation stage more accurately.
  • Activity data collection for cultivation: for most cultivations the activity data collection is very similar (yield, NPK, water use, etc.). For the United States and Canada, cultivation data are collected on state or province level. Emission modelling is the same for all cultivations.
  • Pesticide data: In both Feedprint databases the inventoried datasets on pesticides are aggregated into active ingredients because toxicity related impacts are outside the scope of this database. Therefore, there might be small deviations in the environmental impact of pesticide production between the Feedprint and the other databases.
  • Crop residues: For all databases the amount of ‘Above Ground Dry Matter’ (AGDM) in crop residues is calculated using IPCC defaults. However, in Feedprint the AGDM is corrected by the removal of the co-product. A similar approach will be used in Agri-footprint 5.0.
Agri-footprint 4.0 Agri-footprint 5.0 1 EC Feed Database GFLI Feedprint NL 2.0 Feedprint International
Geographical focus NL/EU NL/EU/US EU EU/USA/CA NL EU
Background datasets AFP (+ELCD and USLCI) AFP (+ELCD and USLCI) PEF compliant AFP (+ELCD and USLCI) AFP (+ELCD and USLCI) AFP (+ELCD and USLCI)
System boundaries Cradle-to-gate Cradle-to-market Cradle-to-gate Cradle-to-gate Cradle-to-animal Cradle-to-compound plant
Activity data cultivations Same sources for all, except US Same sources for all, except US Same sources for all cultivations Same sources for all, except US and Canada Same sources for all, except US and Canada Same sources for all, except US and Canada
Market mix processed products Only for NL "at compound plant/NL" For NL, Europe(RER) and US, "at regional storage" Only for product groups Only for product groups For all products For all products
(Delivered) datasets 2918 LCI's 3755 LCI's 760 products 962 products 274 products 134 products
Energy use cultivation MEBOT Energy model for crop cultivations MEBOT MEBOT (Canada = study) Energy model for crop cultivations Energy model for crop cultivations
Pesticides Specific Pesticide model Specific Specific Aggregated Aggregated
Crop residues Not corrected Corrected Not corrected Only Canada corrected Corrected Corrected
Availability SimaPro and openLCA (licences needed) Expected in 2019 for SimaPro and openLCA (licences needed) Only to be used for PEF related studies Freely available 2 Freely available Freely available
Format LCA software, Excel LCA software, Excel LCA software LCA software, Excel Online tool Online tool
More information www.blonksustainability.nl/tools/agri-footprint www.blonksustainability.nl/tools/agri-footprint Methodology report GFLI database Feedprint NL - online tool Feedprint International - online tool

1 Agri-footprint 5.0: available in Q3 2019

2 The GFLI databases are only freely available in impact result (Excel) format. The more detailed is only available for GFLI members. Inventory results for both types of process formats are the same.

More information

Get in touch

Mike van Paassen
Senior Data & methodology specialist | Blonk Sustainability Tools

If you have questions about the databases,
please contact Mike.