Life cycle assessment of phosphorus alternatives for Swedish agriculture
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2012
Phosphorus is an important nutrient in plant cultivation. Global reserves of phosphate rock worth mining
are limited. Reuse of phosphorus in wastewater is therefore important. This LCA study assessed
the environmental impact of four ways to supply Swedish agriculture with phosphorus fertiliser of
acceptable quality as regards cadmium content: mineral fertiliser; certified sewage sludge; struvite
(MgNH4PO4·6H2O) precipitated from wastewater; and phosphorus recovered from sludge incineration.
These were examined with respect to impacts on global warming, eutrophication, energy demand and
cadmium flows to farmland. The functional unit chosen was 11 kg P (25.2 kg P2O5) to agricultural land,
which was the average phosphorus output (removal with harvest) per hectare from Swedish farmland
in 2007. Using sewage sludge directly on farmland was the most efficient option in terms of energy
and emissions of greenhouse gases, but also added most cadmium to the soil. Phosphorus recovery from
incinerated sludge was the most energy demanding option and gave most emissions of greenhouse gases.
Despite great concerns about cadmium in Swedish fertilisers and sludge, it was found that almost no regular
analyses for cadmium are made on imported food by the authorities, although food imports are
constantly increasing. Total imports of cadmium with food are therefore unknown.
Life cycle assessment