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Abstract

Australian dairyfarmers are efficient by world standards and average farm production has expanded significantly in recent years. This has been achieved through increased use of land for grazing, better pasture and nutritional management, increased use of machinery, agricultural chemicals, and irrigation. Milk yields per cow have increased substantially. With the expansion of milk production, there has been increasing pressure on the environment surrounding dairyfarms. In addition, farms are often located in areas with aesthetic environments that are frequently visited by non-farming members of the community and farms may be located in catchments that feed water into storage areas for potable water supplies for urban areas. Dairy farms therefore rate highly in terms of environmental concern within the community. Life cycle analysis has been used extensively in Europe, the United States, and Japan for appraisal of industrial production systems and there has been a growing interest in recent years in the application of LCA for agricultural production to assess environmental impact and sustainability. This paper focuses on the conduct of a preliminary life cycle assessment of the milk production system used on dairy farms in south Queensland. Life Cycle Assessment methods are discussed and methodological issues associated with its application to agricultural production systems raised.

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