NEW PUBLICATION: Variability of Greenhouse Gas Footprints of Field Tomatoes Grown for Processing: Interyear and Intercountry Assessment


Life cycle assessment (LCA) studies on agricultural products typically have limited spatial and temporal cover-age and usually overlook the interaction of farm management practices with farm-specific factors and environ-mental conditions. We provide the first integrated analysis of the drivers of variability in greenhouse gas (GHG) footprints of field tomato production using a farm-specific dataset of 890 observations in 14 countries over the years 2013, 2014 and 2015. Using a partial correlation analysis, we found that factors directly used in the GHG footprint calculations, i.e. (i) tomato yield, (ii) fertilizer production and application and (iii) fossil energy use contribute equally towards the variability of GHG footprints for the overall dataset and for most countries. For countries that had the lowest yields, yield was the most important contributing factor indicating that some farms are operating inefficiently. Subsequently we quantified the relative influence of farm-specific factors and envi-ronmental conditions on GHG footprints using linear mixed effect models (LMM) for a subset of 719 observa-tions with unique geolocations and complete information for farm-specific factors. According to the LMM, most of the variance in GHG footprints was explained by the area of production and by fertilizer application methods. This indicates a large potential for GHG reduction just through optimization of farm-specific factors. Our ap-proach could be applied for other crops for which drivers of GHG footprints have not been assessed. Focused analysis of farm-specific factors would help to inform GHG mitigation strategies within agricultural supply chains and improve extrapolation methods currently used in LCA to fill inventory data gaps.


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