Influence of orchard cultural practices during the productive process of cherries through life cycle assessment

Pedro Dinis Gaspar, Radu Godina, Rui Barrau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study describes the influence of orchard cultural practices during the productive process of cherries on the environmental impact in terms of energy, air, soil and water through a “farm to market” Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). The results were used to identify the orchard cultural practices that contribute significantly to the environmental impact and to find solutions to reduce those impacts, serving as best practices guide to improving the environmental performance and as benchmarks for other national and international cherry and fruit growers. Primary data for production, harvest and post-harvest periods were gathered experimentally. The openLCA 1.10.2 software and the ecoinvent 3.5 database were used for modelling. Test case scenarios are modelled to identify the influence of cultural practices in low and high cherry production campaigns depending on climatic conditions and consequently diseases and plagues. Moreover, results are compared with other studies, not only covering cherries but also other fruits. The energy consumption per hectare in the production phase is similar in test scenarios. The energy consumption of orchard cultural practices related to tractor use, fertilizers and fungicides application are the main hotspots in terms of global warming, freshwater ecotoxicity and eutrophication, and terrestrial acidification. The use of electric vehicles, change the warehouse location or redefine transportation routes can reduce this impact, along with the optimization of the cherry’s quantity transported in each trip. In addition, the use of plant protection products, fertilizers and herbicides with less environmental impact will contribute to this objective. For that, the use of agriculture and precision systems to predict the need for fertilizers (nutrients), herbicides and fungicides, the use of decision support systems to define the dates of cultural practices, as well as innovative and emerging food and by-products processing methods are suggested. Thus, this study identifies and quantifies the environmental impacts associated with the production system of cherries and their main hotspots. It provides a best-practices guide for sustainable solutions in orchard management that contributes to the competitiveness and sustainability of fruit companies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1065
JournalProcesses
Volume9
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2021

Keywords

  • Cherry production
  • Energetic assessment
  • Environmental hotspots
  • Environmental impacts
  • Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
  • Protected geographical indication

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Influence of orchard cultural practices during the productive process of cherries through life cycle assessment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this