CRSC Major Crop Carbon Lifecycle Assessment

Carbon Lifecycles for Ten Major Field Crops in Canada, 2017

In 2017, the CRSC contracted (S&T)2 to conduct a Carbon Lifecycle Analysis for ten major grain crops in Canada: barley; canola; corn: durum wheat; field peas; flax; lentils; oats; soybeans and wheat (other than durum). A Carbon Lifecycle Analysis (or GHG emissions per unit production) is the sum of all of the greenhouse gas emissions and removals, converted and expressed as carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalents, in a product system and is based on the lifecycle of the product. For this work, the product system ends at the farm gate. For each crop, the following were calculated: the relative contribution of energy, fertilizer manufacturing, seeds and pesticides, nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions, changes in soil carbon, and the Total GHG emissions in kilograms of CO2 equivalents per tonne of production. This work follows the ISO 14067 Technical Specification. The use of changes in soil carbon and the methodology used in Canada’s National Inventory Report is recommended for compliance to this standard. This work does not include any emissions associated with the capital infrastructure.

For the purpose of the Carbon Lifecycle Analysis, Canada is divided into Regional Units (RUs). An RU is the smallest spatial unit at which activity data from the different sources (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), Canadian Forest Service) can be harmonized. RUs are AAFC Reporting Zones subdivided by provincial boundaries. The AAFC Reporting Zones are equivalent to ecozones of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's National Ecological Framework with additional subdivisions: the Prairie ecozone was divided into the Semiarid Prairies and Subhumid Prairies, and the Boreal Shield ecozone was divided into the Boreal Shield West and Boreal Shield East sections. The RUs for Canada can be seen by clicking the small gear symbol to the right of each chart.

Not all of these units are applicable to Canadian crop production. An RU was considered for calculation if it had more than 10,000 ha of cropland. A crop was considered as a major crop if there were more than 500,000t of production annually. Accordingly, the CRSC limited the number of crops to ten, and only RUs with at least 10,000 hectares of that crop in 2014 were included in the study.

A significant input into the Carbon Lifecycle Analysis is the Carbon Footprint for Fertilizer Production.  The CRSC contracted Cheminfo Services Inc. in 2016 to conduct a carbon footprint analysis for fertilizer manufacturing for use in the Carbon Lifecycle for Crops work. The resulting calculations were then applied within the individual crops calculations. The charts in this data collection were developed from the Carbon Lifecycle Analysis and used in the Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Air Quality Report.

The complete reports as well as the methodology are available to CRSC members.  The documents are available on the website, but can only be acessed through logging into the site, which requires a password.  Members should direct their request for a password to

All non-member enquiries should be directed to

Data Exhibits