Cleaner fruit production has become important for producers worldwide because consumers and retail companies increasingly base their purchase decisions on environmental criteria. Green manure is a soil management practice that promotes soil nutrient enrichment and may improve crop yield. Nonetheless, the environmental impacts and economic analysis of combined green manure and tropical fruit production have not been performed. This work assesses the environmental impacts and profits resulting from the Brazilian melon, commercialized in Brazil. Melon production is analyzed under two cultivation systems: i) the conventional form practiced by farmers located in the São Francisco Valley region, Brazil, and ii) the conservationist system, based on a green manure experiment carried out in this same region. This study applies life cycle assessment to evaluate the environmental impacts of both systems, considering farm inputs production and transportation (energy power, fertilizers, pesticides, plastic, paper, and fuel) as well as melon production and transportation to the main national distribution market in São Paulo. The impact categories evaluated are climate change, soil acidification, freshwater and marine eutrophication, water depletion, human toxicity (cancer and non-cancer), and ecotoxicity. Scenario analysis is applied to assess impacts under different designed conditions for transportation, packing, and nitrogen fertilization. The profit analysis is performed by reducing the total production costs (inputs and services) from the revenue obtained from selling melons. Results indicate that the conservationist system causes lower impacts and lead to higher profit than the conventional system, for all assessed categories. The scenario analysis confirms that impacts can be further reduced in all categories when alternative melon transportation and fertilization practices are adopted. This work demonstrates that the environmental performance of Brazilian melon production can be improved with the addition of green manure and alternative transportation practices.
Journal of Cleaner Production – Elsevier
Published: Apr 20, 2018
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