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2017 | 26 | 2 |

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Carbon footprint assessment of sweet cherry production: hotspots and improvement options

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The carbon footprint (CF) evaluates the overall amount of greenhouse gas emissions and removals associated with a product or activity across its life cycle. Today, the CF assessment has the potential to be a key measurement for increasing sustainable agricultural production. In addition, the export-oriented fruit sector has been challenged to quantify and reduce their CF. Worldwide there are scant peer-review studies that examine the CF of stone fruits (Prunus genus). The scarcity is most evident in sweet cherries, which is the third most exported stone fruit in the world in terms of value (after almonds and peaches). Chile is the largest southern hemisphere producer and exporter of sweet cherry fruit. Within this context, the present study is one of the first assessments of the CF of conventional sweet cherry production. This work considers Chilean agricultural practices and identifies key influencing factors (hotspots). It takes into account the following agricultural inputs: mineral fertilizers, pesticides, diesel consumption for agricultural operations, machinery, and electricity for irrigation. The results indicate that the average CF of the Chilean sweet cherry production is 0.41 kg CO₂-eq/kg of harvested fruit, with a 95% confidence interval between 0.36 and 0.47 kg CO₂-eq/kg. This value is higher than those for other stone fruits reported by the literature. Diesel and fertilizers are the most important contributors to the CF of sweet cherry cultivation. Improvement scenarios are evaluated for the hotspots in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the production of this fruit. This study provides quantitative environmental criteria associated with global warming concerns to the stakeholders in the fruit sector and to the agricultural policymakers.

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  • School of Industrial Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Universidad de Talca, Casilla 747, Talca, Chile
  • School of Industrial Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Universidad de Talca, Casilla 747, Talca, Chile
  • Forestry Department of Environmental Management, Faculty of Forest Science, Universidad de Talca, Casilla 747, Talca, Chile
  • Department of Industrial Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Universidad de Talca, Casilla 747, Talca, Chile
  • Chilean Food Processing Research Center (CEAP), R09I2001, Av. San Luis km 1, Talca, Chile


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