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Unit process data for field operations: work processes and farm implements version 1

This document describes the preparation of datasets for the LCA Commons that represent unit process/ gate-to-gate operations for field operations (a.k.a. work processes e.g., soil preparation and planting for conventional tillage, applying fertilizer with incorporation) and farm implements (e.g., operation of moldboard plows, broadcast sprayers) used in the production of field crops. The data cover 49 types of field operations and 104 types of farm implements for 9 crops in 36 U.S. states, resulting in the development of almost 19,000 unit process datasets. The field operation and farm implement datasets described herein fall between the field crop production and the aggregated fleet equipment datasets already in the Commons.

Field operation datasets represent the use of farm implements for soil preparation and planting (by crop and tillage type); nutrient, pesticide, and micro-compound applications, as well as harvest. Whereas the key information source used for the development of the field operation datasets representing soil preparation and planting is the Energy Estimator for Tillage, developed by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the remaining field operation datasets (i.e., application and harvest operations) are based on a review of related literature and input from the peer reviewers. For the farm implement datasets, estimates of implement work, storage, construction, maintenance, and retirement are based on a review of crop budget and economic analysis tools and ASAE D497.7 from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE).

The data were aggregated to the state level using the fraction area covered by each Crop Management Zone in each state.

Dataset Info

These fields are compatible with DCAT, an RDF vocabulary designed to facilitate interoperability between data catalogs published on the Web.
Cooper, Joyce
Temporal Coverage
Intended Use
These models were developed as specific, average or generic unit process or LCI results data sets for use in “Accounting” situations (C2) as described in European Commission - Joint Research Centre - Institute for Environment and Sustainability: International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) Handbook - General guide for Life Cycle Assessment - Detailed guidance. First edition March 2010. EUR 24708 EN. Luxembourg. Publications Office of the European Union; 2010.
Use Limitations
These unit process models are aggregated to the state level. They may be aggregated regionally or nationally with proper documentation of the aggregation method.
Ag Data Commons
Contact Name
Cooper, Joyce
Contact Email
Public Access Level
Preferred Dataset Citation
Cooper, J.S. (2015) "Unit Process Data for field operations: work processes and farm implements, Version 1" University of Washington Design for Environment Laboratory, Unpublished report. https://data.nal.usda.gov/dataset/unit-process-data-field-operations-work-processes-and-farm-implements-version-1
Related Article

Cooper, J., Noon, M., & Kahn, E. (2012). Parameterization in Life Cycle Assessment inventory data: review of current use and the representation of uncertainty. International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 17(6), 689-695. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11367-012-0411-1

Cooper, J., Kahn, E., & Ebel, R. (2012). Sampling error in US field crop unit process data for life cycle assessment. International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 18(1), 185-192. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11367-012-0454-3

Related Content
USDA-ARS-NAL LCA Commons Staff
Funding Source(s)
Agricultural Research Service
Dataset DOI (digital object identifier)
Modified Date
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Ag Data Commons Keywords: 
  • Plants & Crops
  • Life Cycle Assessment
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