Agriculture, Fishery and Animal Husbandry

The Agriculture, Fishery, and Animal Husbandry sector represents a sphere of human activities characterized by a pronounced reliance on natural, economic and social capitals.

Sept 24th, 2023

Due to the intensive use of specific inputs and resources such as land, water and labor, this sector bears a substantive contribution to the depletion of both natural and fossil resources. Indeed, according to IPCC’s  Special Report on Climate Change, Desertification, Land Degradation, Sustainable Land Management, Food Security, and Greenhouse gas fluxes in Terrestrial Ecosystems, agriculture is responsible for approximately a 23% of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, within, based on FAO Report Tackling Climate Change Through Livestock, livestock production accounts for circa 14.5% of them. 

In the ecoinvent database, the sector includes, growing of perennial crops (e.g. apples, mandarins); growing of non-perennial crops (e.g. hay, grass, cereals, legumes etc.); production of oils from crops (e.g. soybean oil); supporting agricultural activities (e.g. tillage, irrigation, sprayer); recycling of agricultural by-products (e.g. nutrient supplies); animal production (e.g. cattle, swine); crop processing activities (e.g. sugar production); crop supporting activities (e.g. drying, sorting); production of animal feeds. 

Geographies covered include more than 40 countries and several regions within countries. Major producer countries and/or regions include Brazil (BR), India (IN), Switzerland, (CH), South Africa (ZA), Canada (CA), Europe (RER), United States (US), Australia (AU), China (CN), Peru (PE), Ecuador (EC) and many more. 

The database also includes additional datasets that are used almost exclusively for agriculture but are not considered part of the sector. Datasets on fertilisers and pesticides production are included in the Chemicals and Plastics sector. Furthermore, crop production for crops meant to be used for textiles is covered in the Textiles sector. All datasets related to irrigation are included in the Water Supply sector

Sector Highlights 

Crop Production

The agriculture sector in the ecoinvent database includes data for several perennial and non-perennial crops, including food crops and non-food crops used in the textiles and animal farming industries. Crop examples, for which data are available, include cotton, apples, tomatoes, wheat, maize, soybean, cocoa, coffee etc. Additionally, data according to various production processes are presented, including open field-, greenhouse-, and organic crop production with different levels of inputs (e.g. tillage, irrigation etc.). Geographical coverage of the crop production datasets spans in more than 40 geographies across 5 continents. 

Regarding emissions and emissions’ models, all crop production-related datasets are modelled following a homogeneous modelling approach. The calculation of heavy metal emissions is based on the SALCA method developed by Agroscope. The method considers cadmium, copper, zinc, lead, nickel, chromium and mercury emissions to soil and water, based on inputs during the crop production (fertilisers, pesticides etc) as well as crop uptake. Calculation of air emissions of CO2 resulting from fertiliser application during crop production, is based on emission factors from IPCC, considering all carbon in the fertiliser emitted as carbon dioxide. Additional modelling for pesticide fertilizer and other input-related emissions is described in this report:

The sector models the Land Use Change (LUC) according to the PAS2050-1/ENVIFOOD protocol, adapted by Blonk consultants and Quantis intl.. The methodology employs land use statistics and carbon inventories to properly address the modelling of LUC. The methodology is documented in detail here:

The above-mentioned models are consistently applied in Agriculture Life Cycle Inventories (LCIs) unless the data providers are able to provide more precise modelling approaches. Where different models are adopted, the information is available in the metadata of the relevant datasets.

Animal Husbandry

Information about various farmed meat products are included in the agriculture sector of the ecoinvent database. Such products include cattle, chicken, swine. Datasets included cover raising of the animals (BR, ZA and CA), manure management, and relevant infrastructure. Different production technologies are represented, such as beef production on pasture with or without feed use. Further, the sector models various products and by-products, such as weaned heifers and weaned calves. 


Including data developed within the framework of the SRI project, the Fisheries sector was introduced in the database with the release of ecoinvent v3.5. It comprises over 200 datasets, covering a wide range of fishes as well as both types of fish production, fish catching and aquaculture. 

The sector covers some of the most consumed fish and fish products, as well as special seafood products (e.g. fish sticks). Further, the sector includes data on different processes of fish capture and fish farming, as well as data on fish processing to produce canned fish products meant for human consumption, fish meal and fish oil. 

Specifically, the sector covers wild capture (PE, EC, ES, NA) and fish farms processes (PE and RLA), and includes data for the value chains of tuna, hake, anchovy, Patagonian grenadier, and small pelagic fish, tilapia and trout. Further, various technologies are represented, such as trawlers, long liners, and purse seiners. 

The wild capture datasets include the fuels used in the process and all relevant infrastructure for the fishing activities. Further, the datasets properly capture the extraction of natural resources (fish main catch and by-catch) from the environment. At the same time, the sector includes information on aquafarming, specifically covering the production of fish feed, infrastructure and fuels used in the process. 

Fertilisers and Nutrient Supplies

The Agriculture sector of the database accommodates information about the production of all types of fertilisers (organic, inorganic, organo-mineral) with a clear distinction between them. 

Users can choose to model fertilisers in different geographies and at different levels: the gate factory level (urea); market for the product (market for urea); nutrient supply (nutrient N delivery from urea); and, finally, the aggregate N fertiliser that can contain urea. Each level builds on the previous while users can also choose to employ them independently. More information regarding this modelling is available in ecoinvent 3.7 report of changes. 

Finally, the sector includes country specific fertiliser consumption mixes (level 4) for more than 30 countries. They comprise of the most used fertilisers that deliver the aggregated nutrient substance. 

The manufacturing of mineral fertilisers is documented under the Chemicals sector. It covers the main active substances: ammonia, urea, ammonium nitrate, ammonium sulfate, calcium nitrate, potassium nitrate, ammonium nitrate phosphate, calcium ammonium nitrate, mono and di – ammonium phosphate, phosphoric acid, NPKs and superphosphates. 

Agricultural and Processing Services and Infrastructure

The sector offers many datasets that model agricultural services (i.e.: tillage, sowing, harvesting, fertilising, field spraying and more) using heavy equipment. These datasets rely on the diesel consumption used for the process, effectively allowing users to make adjustments and model specific cases. Part of the sector also includes the production of the equipment used in the aforementioned processes. Further, the sector includes processing of food with various datasets such as drying (grains and coffee), sorting (fruits), canning, freezing and curing of fish products. Those datasets include the infrastructure employed in the process, energy consumption and production of relevant wastes. 

Land Use Change (LUC) 

The sector models the Land Use Change (LUC) according to the PAS2050-1/ENVIFOOD protocol. The methodology employs land use statistics and carbon inventories to properly address the modelling of LUC. The methodology is documented in detail here:

Data Providers 

ecoinvent data originates from different sources. Notable providers of LCI datasets for the Agriculture, Fishery & Animal Husbandry sector include (but are not limited to): 


  • Thomas Nemecek (Main Editor), Agroscope, Switzerland 
  • Assumpció Antón (Co-Editor), IRTA (Institut de Reserca i Technologica Agroalimentaries), Spain 
  • Jens Lansche (Co-Editor), Agroscope, Switzerland 
  • Jürgen Reinhard (Main Editor for Land Use Change (LUC)), Quantis Switzerland 
  • Friederike Ziegler and Kristina Bergman (Main Editors for Fisheries ), RISE, Research Institute of Sweden

Relevant Sources 

Avadí, A., Vázquez-Rowe, I., (2019). Life Cycle Inventories of Wild Capture and Aquaculture, ecoinvent association, Zürich, Switzerland. Accessible at SRI project results (registration required).