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Many agricultural industries are transitioning to new practices that have less impact on the environment. Being able to quantify the ‘eco-efficiency’ of agricultural activities can help researchers test the environmental benefits alternative practices, and help agricultural industries make informed decisions about practice change, and validate their improvements efforts.

CaneLCA calculates ‘eco-efficiency’ indicators for sugarcane growing based on the life cycle assessment (LCA) method. It streamlines an otherwise complex LCA process to make it more accessible to researchers, agricultural advisors, policy makers and farmers. It has been specifically developed for sugarcane growing in Australia.

It considers all the activities within the ‘cradle to farm gate’ life cycle of cane growing, from the production of farming inputs to the delivery of harvested sugarcane to the farm gate. It recognises that the environmental efforts of sugarcane industries can have benefits across a range of issues, so it evaluates WATER QUALITY, WATER USE, and FOSSIL FUEL USE as well as CARBON FOOTPRINT.


CaneLCA contains Excel worksheets, into which the user enters information and data about a cane growing operation. It then uses in-built calculations and assumptions to calculate life-cycle eco-efficiency indicators. 


Results are presented as

  • an environmental profile graph from which the user can see the sources of environmental impacts and opportunities for improvement; and
  • eco-efficiency indicators (5-star scale) so the user can see how the assessed farm compares with industry ranges.

An assessment can usually be completed within four hours, and can be repeated for different scenarios to compare alternative practices.


CaneLCA was developed by Australian researchers at The University of Queensland and BSES Limited (now Sugar Research Australia) with Australian government and industry funding.

 Methods employed in CaneLCA V1.03 are consistent with the following environmental life cycle assessment (LCA) standards and guidelines:

The following research papers describe example applications of CaneLCA:

CaneLCA is designed for internal environmental evaluation and comparison of growing practices, and not for external reporting of environmental performance. It is best suited to comparing practices the farm level, and not for comparison across different operations or regions.

A ‘Non-commercial Use’ licence to use CaneLCA is available free of charge for personnel working in a capacity that supports the Australian sugarcane industry. A non-commercial use licence may also be considered on a case by case basis for certain research purposes.

A “Commercial Use” licence can be purchased for a fee.

You can request either a ‘blank’ version, a ‘pre-filled’ version for a single region, or for all regions. ‘Pre-filled’ versions contain example data for cane growing systems in different Australian regions, and are offered to help users understand the data input requirements, or to use as a template for customising their own evaluation.

For more information about licencing, and to obtain a licence to use CaneLCA proceed to either the ‘Commercial Use’ or ‘Non-commercial Use’ pages. Licence terms and conditions apply, so please read these carefully.