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Climate change mitigation role of orchard agroecosystems: case studies in southern Italy

Lardo, E., Fiore, A., Quinto, G. A., Dichio, B., Xiloyannis, C.
Acta horticulturae 2018 no.1216 pp. 13-18
agroecosystems, apricots, bioenergy, biomass, carbon, carbon footprint, case studies, climate change, climatic factors, crop management, databases, farms, fruits, grapes, greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases, inventories, kiwifruit, land use change, models, olives, orchards, product system, soil, soil carbon, trees, Italy
At the moment of growing world interest in global climate changes, it is important to uncover and highlight the agro-ecosystems mitigation role. The most recent international standard about carbon footprint, or CFP (ISO 14067), states that the soil C stocks change subsequently to crop management changes and should be included in CFP if not already calculated as part of land use change; although it can contribute considerably to the greenhouse gases (GHG) balance of food and bioenergy products, it is often disregarded in CFP studies. Four carbon footprint case studies in apricot, olive, grape and kiwifruit orchards, located in Southern Italy were analyzed. For each site two different management regimes were compared (conventional and sustainable managements), starting from 2013. The product system object of studies was the orchard, constituted by the trees and the soil. The boundaries of the study have been established for cradle to gate, which in the case of fruit production means from production of all productive inputs till the harvest of fruits in bins. The time boundaries corresponded to the life cycle of the orchards from establishment till removal (15-40 years). Inventory analysis was performed extensively in each farm. GHG emissions related to the production of productive inputs were retrieved mostly from the Ecoinvent database v.2.2 and v.3.0. Variation of soil C stock was assessed through Roth C model adapted to semi-arid climatic conditions and tree data by means of biomass measurements. The results showed that sustainable management of fruit orchards acted as “sink” while the conventional one acted as source for the carbon balance. The agro-ecosystem can produce a net benefit in terms of climate change mitigation, in case of well-done management, as demonstrated in the developed simulations of pilot orchards lifecycle.