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Food-energy-water nexus of different cacao production systems from a LCA approach

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Food-energy-water nexus of different cacao production systems from a LCA approach

Armengot, Laura; Beltrán, María J.; Schneider, Monika; Simón Fernández, Xavier; Pérez Neira, David
 
DATE : 2021-07
UNIVERSAL IDENTIFIER : http://hdl.handle.net/11093/2700
UNESCO SUBJECT : 5312.01 Agricultura, Silvicultura, Pesca ; 6311.02 Sociología Ecológica ; 3103.01 Producción de Cultivos
DOCUMENT TYPE : article

ABSTRACT :

This study presents an evaluation of the food-energy-water nexus (FEWn), complemented by a thorough life cycle assessment (LCA), of four young cacao production systems: two full-sun monocultures and two agroforestry systems under conventional and organic management. Land footprint (LF) for food production, non-renewable cumulative energy demand (NR CED) for energy, total water footprint (TWF) for water, and three efficiency indicators for the FEWn were all analysed. In addition, ten LCA impact categories were evaluated in relation to two functional units (kilograms of cacao output and kilograms of total crop output, i.e., cacao + other crops). The integrated analysis of the FEWn and the LCA framework reveals how agroforestry systems and organic management report better environmental performances for almost all indicators and impact categories considered, except for the TWF. However, given that the systems analysed have no irrigation, between 96.3% and 99.8% of the TWF corresponds to green water, i.e., soil moisture from precipitation. Green water has lower environmental impacts ... [+]
This study presents an evaluation of the food-energy-water nexus (FEWn), complemented by a thorough life cycle assessment (LCA), of four young cacao production systems: two full-sun monocultures and two agroforestry systems under conventional and organic management. Land footprint (LF) for food production, non-renewable cumulative energy demand (NR CED) for energy, total water footprint (TWF) for water, and three efficiency indicators for the FEWn were all analysed. In addition, ten LCA impact categories were evaluated in relation to two functional units (kilograms of cacao output and kilograms of total crop output, i.e., cacao + other crops). The integrated analysis of the FEWn and the LCA framework reveals how agroforestry systems and organic management report better environmental performances for almost all indicators and impact categories considered, except for the TWF. However, given that the systems analysed have no irrigation, between 96.3% and 99.8% of the TWF corresponds to green water, i.e., soil moisture from precipitation. Green water has lower environmental impacts and opportunity costs than the water used to manufacture inputs (WFinput). Accordingly, when the efficiency of the nexus is measured in relation to the WFinput, organically managed systems produce more food/energy per unit of water used. Our results show how production diversification and organic and cultural management practices can improve energy efficiency and reduce the use of water associated with the inputs and, consequently, improve the nexus, as well as the rest of the environmental impacts analysed. The design of agricultural policies focused on sustainability should strongly favour the establishment of agroforestry systems, particularly those that are organically managed. [-]

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