event 25 Apr 2022

Research Article // Optimization of Water-Energy-Food Nexus considering CO2 emissions from cropland: A case study in northwest Iran

By Marzieh Hasanzadeh Saray and colleagues. This study developed mitigation strategies for optimal cropping patterns and illustrates the interactions between water, energy, and food by focusing on CO2 emissions. Water-energy-food interrelationships were studied using real farm data, and their interactions with water and energy consumption and food production were analyzed for seven crops. This study showed that WEF Nexus index values could be used to optimize cropping patterns to minimize water consumption, energy consumption, and CO2 emission, and maximize food production, and be applied annually to assess water-energy-food relationships.

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Fig. 1. Diagram of the Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus and optimization steps.


Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus and CO2 emissions for a farm in northwest Iran were analyzed to provide data support for decision-makers formulating national strategies in response to climate change. In the analysis, input–output energy in the production of seven crop species (alfalfa, barley, silage corn, potato, rapeseed, sugar beet, and wheat) was determined using six indicators, water, and energy consumption, mass productivity, and economic productivity. WEF Nexus index (WEFNI), calculated based on these indicators, showed the highest (best) value for silage corn and the lowest for potato. Nitrogen fertilizer and diesel fuel with an average of 36.8% and 30.6% of total input energy were the greatest contributors to energy demand. Because of the direct relationship between energy consumption and CO2 emissions, potato cropping, with the highest energy consumption, had the highest CO2 emissions with a value of 5166 kg CO2eq ha−1. A comparison of energy inputs and CO2 emissions revealed a direct relationship between input energy and global warming potential. A 1 MJ increase in input energy increased CO2 emissions by 0.047, 0.049, 0.047, 0.054, 0.046, 0.046, and 0.047 kg ha−1 for alfalfa, barley, silage corn, potato, rapeseed, sugar beet, and wheat, respectively. Optimization assessments to identify the optimal cultivation pattern, with emphasis on maximized WEFNI and minimized CO2 emissions, showed that barley, rapeseed, silage corn, and wheat performed best under the conditions studied.


February 2022


Applied Energy


Saray, M. H., Baubekova, A., Gohari, A., Eslamian, S. S., Klove, B., & Haghighi, A. T. (2022). Optimization of Water-Energy-Food Nexus considering CO2 emissions from cropland: A case study in northwest Iran. Applied Energy, 307, 118236.


Download the full article here.

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