Background, aim, and scope Nowadays, various crops are cultivated to supply emerging needs in sustainable fuels and materials. In addition to the development of crop processing technologies, cultivation processes in a cropping system could be modified to meet the emerging needs, along with the conventional needs in food supply. This study provides a decision tool for modifications in cultivation of crops based on life cycle assessment. Sugarcane cultivation in Taiwan is chosen as a case study to present such a decision tool, because it is an important potential indigenous resource for energy (for example, bio-ethanol) and materials (for example, bio-plastics). First, this study presents the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the production of 1 ton of sugarcane in Taiwan, which makes it possible to understand how it is consistent to develop this bio-resource in terms of both objectives: i.e., resource security and reduction of global warming impact. Next, sensitivity of the parameters in cropping systems, such as amount of irrigation, fertilization and tillage are assessed from a viewpoint of GHG emissions, using the LCI model constructed in the first step. Finally, equivalent impact level (EIL) lines are presented for some important parameters in the cropping system to support considerations in modification of agricultural methods. Because the objective is to discuss parameters in cultivation processes, the scope of study is limited to cradle-to-gate of raw sugarcane transported to the cane processing plant.

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