LCA of apricot orchards

Research publications concerning biodynamics
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LCA of apricot orchards

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A comprehensive Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of three apricot orchard systems located in Metapontino area (Southern Italy)

Pergola, M., Persiani, A., Pastore, V., Palese, A. M., Arous, A., & Celano, G. (2016).


EA and LCA performed to compare integrated and biodynamic apricot cultivations.

Fixed structures in the plantation phase (greenhouse) had significant impacts.

Considering energy and CO2 balance, the biodynamic grove was a sink of C and energy.

Soil was the most important CO2 pool, above all in the biodynamic orchard system.

A method to include agriculture in offset schemes of Kyoto Protocol is suggested.

The aim of the present research was the assessment of environmental impacts and energy consumptions of three apricot orchards managed according to two cultivation systems (integrated and biodynamic) through the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology and the Energy Analysis (EA). With respect to the Global Warming, both anthropogenic CO2 emissions and biogenic carbon gains (in plant permanent structures and soil) were considered to perform an accurate and complete analysis of the systems under investigation.
The biodynamic system appeared more sustainable in sensu lato. Without taking into account the plantation phase which included fixed structures such as greenhouse covering and support structures, the biodynamic system had lesser impact and energy consumptions per kg with respect to the integrated orchards. Taking into consideration the CO2 balance, a higher total amount of CO2 was fixed at the end of the reference period (20 years) by the biodynamic system, especially into the soil which was the most important CO2 pool sequestering about 45% of the total fixed CO2. This was essentially due to the soil management techniques used which were based on a constant supply of polygenic organic materials with nutrient and structuring functions. Similarly, the biodynamic system showed a favourable energy balance.
The methodologies used in this study (LCA and EA) were very useful to examine the production cycle of apricot orchards differently managed and to identify the individual process steps which were more impactful. In addition, the CO2 balance allowed to consider within the environmental analysis also carbon sources and sinks linked to the orchard production/management evidencing that opportune agricultural management strategies can contrast global warming. Therefore, the present research could suggest a methodology to include agriculture in offset schemes planned within Kyoto Protocol.