Logistics for a better Swedish food system
Better managing resources in our food production chains (from the field all the way to organic waste management) will be essential to meeting global and local sustainability goals including food security and water quality. Some of the big challenges we face have to do with trying to evaluate policies and practices for multiple goals at once. One particularly understudied area in with respect is how the landscape (e.g., location of crops vs people) and logistical complexities (e.g., transportation and processing) of our food system may represent a barrier to the change we need currently, and that this will change in the future.
Biobased economy in Sweden
This project aims to quantify Sweden’s potential to recycle nutrients in manure, human excreta and other organic waste back into food production and look at the logistical implications of recycling from a cost and transport perspective at both the national and regional scale. Building on optimization around nutrients, we are now looking at how such organic waste recycling interfaces with energy production (biogas especially), animal welfare (e.g. mobile slaughterhouses), and aquatic biomass harvesting for eutrophication remediation in order for Sweden to meet multiple sustainable development goals at once.
This work has important implications for policy decisions for food and agricultural security and environmental sustainability, but also for company profitability. We have thus partnered with stakeholders in Region Östergötland, along with other research teams at LiU, to coordinate and co-develop relevant questions, datasets, and outputs with the community.
PIs: Uno Wennergren and Karin Tonderski
Other team members and roles:
Nils-Hassan Quttineh, Mathematical optimization
Usman Akram, Nutrient quantification and mapping
Geneviève Metson, Future scenarios and integration
Roozbeh Aghaei, Life Cycle Assessment with biogas production
Support by: FORMAS
Here is a video of some of this work (data collection and maps led by Usman and Nils) being presented in Helsinki at the ESPC3 conference in June 2018
This project focused on synthesizing existing knowledge on how to achieve high production, economic sustainability, climate change mitigation and adaptation, reduced eutrophication and high biodiversity, increased animal welfare, and reduced risk of spread of disease in the Swedish food system. Through the systematic literature review and key stakeholder workshops, the synthesis identified research gaps related to how to maximize synergies and minimize tradeoffs among these goals at the interface of academia and practitioner knowledge and priorities (here is a news piece on the work).
Support by: FORMAS
Water quality in the USA
Nutrient losses to USA waterways, although identified as an issue decades ago, continues to contribute to water quality impairment including harmful algal blooms and hypoxia of lakes and coastal waters. Understanding the relative importance of causes of terrestrial nutrient losses is thus still an important part of identifying and developing effective intervention strategies. Of particular interest is developing a clear picture of how causes of water quality success and impairment varies across the US.
Willamette River Basin
We are looking that the effect of legacies (1969 and 2012) of land use and nutrient management on N and P concentrations and loads in the Willamette River Basin on the West Coast of the US and also exploring stoichiometry in the system.
Support: National Research Council (US National Academies of Science)
Jana Compton, Western Ecology Division, US EPA
John Harrison, School of the Environment Washington State University
Jiajia Lin ,NRC and US EPA
P-FUTURES city network
This project uses transdisciplinary methods to help cities transform the way they secure food and water. This involves cross-city comparison work and learning, but also in-depth work in each partner city.
For example, when Gen was a visiting postdoc at ISF, she developed spatially explicit inventory of recyclable phosphorus supply and agricultural needs in the Greater Sydney Basin to identify risks and opportunities in the area through a series of stakeholder presentations and workshops.
More information on the whole project (here)
Sustainable resource consumption
Cities, institutions, and individuals have an amazing potential to drive sustainable change as the final “consumers” of production chains. This is especially true for food where we cannot only think of interventions in agricultural landscapes, but must link this to who is consuming food. Understanding the quantitative impact diet choices can make on resource use is key, including how one change affects multiple resources as once and integrating knowledge on the cultural and environmental paradigms those consumption decisions are made.
Nitrogen Footprint Tool Network
The N-Print network has been working on individual consumer and institutional tools to help made better decisions on sustainable nutrient practices. The core research team is already hard at work linking a university campus carbon footprinting tool to the N one. We are working on creating a compatible P footprinting calculations to be able to seamlessly linking everything in to a C-N-P tool.
Partners in the P footprint project:
Allison Leach, University of New Hampshire
Graham Macdonald, McGill University
Geneviève Metson, Linköping University
Undergraduate researchers who have participated:
Rebecca Clarke, Washington State University Vancouver (Spring & Summer 2017)
Ashley Tseng, McGill University (Fall 2017)
Diet and phosphorus sustainability
Currently working on a book chapter summarizing the importance (and challenges) of using diet choices to affect sustainable phosphorus management.
Previous publications include:
Geneviève S Metson, Dana Cordell, Brad Ridoutt. (2016). Potential impact of dietary choices on phosphorus recycling and global phosphorus footprints: the case of the average Australian city. Frontiers in Nutrition, 3 (35).
Geneviève S. Metson, Elena Bennett, James Elser. (2012). The role of diet in phosphorus demand. Environmental Research Letters, 7 044043.
Sustainable nutrient management will need to include the reuse of human organic waste, including excreta. However, there are multiple environmental, health, cultural, and economic implications in the design and implementation of any infrastructure decision to increase recycling of resources between cities (or individual households) and agricultural fields. Understanding the quantitative potential of such recycling to meet agricultural demand is one thing, but perhaps even more key is shedding light on the facilitators and barriers for achieving sanitation systems that allow for safe reuse in a diversity of contexts.
Impossibility of sewering rapidly growing cities to achieve global access to sanitation
See more here
Gunilla Öberg, University of British Columbia, project lead
Yusuke Kuwayama, Resources for the Future, economic implications
Steve Conrad, Simon Fraser University, engineering implications
Geneviève Metson, case study selection and socio-ecological context of these cities
Organic certification and the use of human excreta
More info coming soon
Sustainable greywater management in informal settlements
Wastewater (both black- and grey-water) can be resources (see above) but when improperly managed can cause serious human and environmental health issues. Selecting infrastructure and behavioural options that make sense within a particular socio-ecological context can be challenging. Informal settlements can be particularly challenging because they are dense, rapidly changing, and often on land that is difficult to build on. However health and environmental impacts are often felt right on the spot, and as such finding solutions that separates people from contaminated water and treating it is a pressing issue.
URBWAT treating greywater in Alexandria Johannesburg and learning from Langrug Western Cape
This is a collaborative project among engineering, ecology, microbiology, psychology, and sustainability science and where our role at the Sustainable Resource Management lab is looking at at socio-ecological context and community engagement to select appropriate strategies. More information here and here.