Advertisement

Reducing the impact of irrigated crops on freshwater availability: the case of Brazilian yellow melons

  • Maria Cléa Brito de FigueirêdoEmail author
  • Imke J. M. de Boer
  • Carolien Kroeze
  • Viviane da Silva Barros
  • João Alencar de Sousa
  • Fernando Antônio Souza de Aragão
  • Rubens Sonsol Gondim
  • José Potting
WATER USE IN LCA

Abstract

Purpose

This study quantifies freshwater consumption throughout the life cycle of Brazilian exported yellow melons and assesses the resulting impact on freshwater availability. Results are used to identify improvement options. Moreover, the study explores the further impact of variations in irrigation volume, yield, and production location.

Methods

The product system boundary encompasses production of seeds, seedlings, and melon plants; melon packing; disposal of solid farm waste; and farm input and melon transportation to European ports. The primary data in the study were collected from farmers in order to quantify freshwater consumption related to packing and to production of seeds, seedlings, and melons. Open-field melon irrigation was also estimated, considering the region's climate and soil characteristics. Estimated and current water consumptions were compared in order to identify impact reduction opportunities. Sensitivity analysis was used to evaluate variations in the impact because of changes in melon field irrigation, yield, and farm location.

Results and discussion

This study shows that the average impact on freshwater availability of 1 kg of exported Brazilian yellow melons is 135 l H2O-e, with a range from 17 to 224 l H2O-e depending on the growing season's production period. Irrigation during plant production accounts for 98 % of this impact. Current melon field water consumption in the Low Jaguaribe and Açu region is at least 39 % higher than necessary, which affects the quality of fruits and yield. The impact of melon production in other world regions on freshwater availability may range from 0.3 l H2O-e/kg in Costa Rica to 466 l H2O-e/kg in the USA.

Conclusions

The impact of temporary crops, such as melons, on water availability should be presented in ranges, instead of as an average, since regional consumptive water and water stress variations occur in different growing season periods. Current and estimated water consumption for irrigation may also be compared in order to identify opportunities to achieve optimization and reduce water availability impact.

Keywords

Consumptive water use Impact assessment Life cycle approach Water efficiency Water footprint Water scarcity 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors thank the managers of melon farms in the LJA region for their continuous support on data gathering and the National Council of Technological and Scientific Development (CNPq) for financially supporting this research.

Supplementary material

11367_2013_630_MOESM1_ESM.docx (21 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 21.1 kb)

References

  1. Aldaya MM, Llamas MR (2009) Water footprint analysis (hydrologic and economic) of the Guadania River Basin. United Nations Educational, FranceGoogle Scholar
  2. Allen RG, Pereira LS, Raes D, Smith M (2006) FAO irrigation and drainage pape: document 56. FAO, RomeGoogle Scholar
  3. Batlles FJ, Rosiek S, Munoz I, Fernandez-Alba AR (2010) Environmental assessment of the CIESOL solar building after two years operation. Environ Sci Technol 44:3587–3593CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bayart JB, Louise C, Deschênes L, Margni M, Pfister S, Vince F, Koehler A (2010) A framework for assessing off-stream freshwater use in LCA. Int J Life Cycle Assess 15:439–453CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Berger M, Finkbeiner M (2010) Water footprinting: how to address water use in life cycle assessment? Sustainability 2:919–944CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Boulay AM, Bouchard C, Bulle C, Deschênes L, Margni M (2011a) Categorizing water for LCA inventory. Int J Life Cycle Assess 16:639–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Boulay AM, Bulle C, Bayart JB, Deschenes L, Margni M (2011b) Regional characterization of freshwater use in LCA: modeling direct impacts on human health. Environ Sci Technol 45:8948–8957CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cabello MJ, Castellanos MT, Romojaro F, Martínez-Madrid C, Ribas F (2009) Yield and quality of melon grown under different irrigation and nitrogen rates. Agr Water Manage 96:866–874CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Canals LM, Chenoweth J, Chapagain A, Orr S, Antón A, Clif R (2009) Assessing freshwater use impacts in LCA: part I—inventory modeling and characterization factors for the main impact pathways. Int J Life Cycle Assess 14(1):28–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cellura M, Ardente F, Longo S (2012) From the LCA of food products to the environmental assessment of protected crops districts: a case-study in the south of Italy. J Environ Manage ent 93:194–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Conejo JCV (2007) Riego y Drenaje. UENED, San JoseGoogle Scholar
  12. De Boer IJM, Hoving IEH, Vellinga TV, Van de Ven GWJ, Lef felaar PA, Gerber PJ (2013) Assessing environmental impacts associated with freshwater consumption along the life cycle of animal products: the case of Dutch milk production in Noord-Brabant. Int J Life Cycle Assess 18:193–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dogan E, Kirnak H, Berekatoglu K, Bilgel L, Surucu A (2008) Water stress imposed on muskmelon (Cucumis melo L.) with subsurface and surface drip irrigation systems under semi-arid climatic conditions. Irrigation Sci 26:131–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Emmenegger MF, Pfister S, Koehler A, Giovanetti L, Arena AP, Zah R (2011) Taking into account water use impacts in the LCA of biofuels: an Argentine case study. Int J Life Cycle Assess 16:869–877CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Empresa de Pesquisa Energética (EPE) [Brazilian Energy Research Company] (2011) Brazilian energy balance: year 2010. EPE, Rio de JaneiroGoogle Scholar
  16. European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC), Institute for Environment and Sustainability (IES) (2011) International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) Handbook: Recommendations for life cycle impact assessment in the European context. European Union, LuxemburgGoogle Scholar
  17. Figueirêdo MCB, Rodrigues GS, Caldeira-Pires A, Rosa MF, Aragão FAS, Vieira VPPB, Mota FSB (2010) Environmental performance evaluation of agro-industrial innovations e part 1: Ambitec-Life Cycle, a methodological approach for considering life cycle thinking. J Clean Prod 18:1366–1375CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Figueirêdo MCB, Kroeze C, Potting J, Barros VS, Aragão FAS, Gondim RS, Santos TL, De Boer IJM (2013) The carbon footprint of exported Brazilian yellow melon. J Clean Prod 47:404–414CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) (1997) Irrigation potential in Africa: a basin approach. http://www.fao.org/docrep/W4347E/w4347e00.htm#Contents. Accessed 2 April 2012
  20. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) (2010) CROPWAT 8.0 model. http://www.fao.org.br. Accessed 11 November 2012
  21. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) (2013a) FAOSTAT: production—crops. http://faostat.fao.org/. Accessed 11 February 2013
  22. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) (2013b) AQUASTAT. http://www.fao.org/nr/water/aquastat/main/index.stm. Accessed 21 November 2012
  23. Frischknecht R, Jungbluth N (2007) Ecoinvent—overview and methodology. Swiss Center for Life Cycle. Inventories, DubendorfGoogle Scholar
  24. Frischknecht R, Steiner R, Jungbluth N (2009) The ecological scarcity method eco-factors 2006. www.environment-switzerland.ch/uw-0906-e. Accessed 13 March 2012
  25. Gondim RS, Freitas JAD, Miranda FR (2003) Eficiência na irrigação para a produção integrada de melão [Irrigation efficiency for the integrated production of melon]. Embrapa Agroindústria Tropical, FortalezaGoogle Scholar
  26. Gondim RS, de Castro MAH, Maia AHN, Evangelista SRM, Fuck SCF (2012) Climate change impacts on irrigation water needs in the Jaguaribe river basin. J Am Water Resour As 48:355–365CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE) [Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics] (2010) Annual industry research. http://www.sidra.ibge.gov.br/bda/tabela/listabl.asp?c=1848&z=t&o=22. Accessed 14 March 2012
  28. Kirda C, Moutonnet P, Hera C, Nielsen DR (2009) Crop yield response to deficit irrigation. Kluwer Academic Publishers, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  29. Kounina A, Margni M, Bayart J-B, Boulay A-M, Berger M, Bulle C, Frischknecht R, Koehler A, Milà I, Canals L, Motoshita M, Núñez M, Peters G, Pfister S, Ridoutt B, van Zelm R, Verones F, Humbert S (2013) Review of methods addressing freshwater use in life cycle inventory and impact assessment. Int J Life Cycle Assess 18:707–721CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lima AJB, Maia A de HN, Gondim RS (2013) Precipitação na região produtora de melão no NE brasileiro: avaliação da qualidade de conjuntos de dados globais por meio de regressão especial [Precipitation in the melon production region in Northeast Brazil: evaluation of global and local data quality by spatial regression analysis]. Campina Grande, 15° Simpósio de Estatística Aplicada à Experimentação Agronômica (SEAGRO)Google Scholar
  31. Lovelli S, Pizza S, Caponio T, Rivelli AR, Perniola M (2005) Lysimetric determination of muskmelon crop coefficients cultivated under plastic mulches. Agr Water Manage 72:147–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mekonnen MM, Hoekstra AY (2010) The green, blue and grey water footprint of crops and derived crop products. http://www.waterfootprint.org/Reports/Report47-WaterFootprintCrops-Vol1.pdf. Accessed 14 March 2012
  33. Ministério do Desenvolvimento, Indústria e Comércio (MDIC) [Brazilian Ministry of Development, Industry and Commerce] (2013) Sistema de Análise das Informações de Comércio Exterior [System for the analysis of foreign commerce] http://aliceweb2.mdic.gov.br/. Accessed 29 January 2013
  34. Miranda FR, Bleicher E (2001) Evapotranspiração e coeficientes de cultivo e de irrigação para a cultura do melão (Cucumis melo L.) na região litorânea do Ceará [Evapotranspiration and crop irrigation coefficients to melon cultivated in Ceará]. Embrapa Agroindústria Tropical, FortalezaGoogle Scholar
  35. Miranda FR, Gondim RS, Freitas JAD, Pinheiro Neto LG (2008) Irrigação do Meloeiro [Melon irrigation]. In Braga Sobrinho et al., Produção integrada de melão [Melon integrated production]. Embrapa Agroindústria Tropical, Banco do Nordeste do Brasil, FortalezaGoogle Scholar
  36. Mitchell TD, Jones DP (2005) An improved method of constructing a database of monthly climate observations and associated high-resolution grids. Int J Climatol 25:693–712CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Motoshita M, Itsubo N, Inaba A (2011) Development of impact factors on damage to health by infectious diseases caused by domestic water scarcity. Int J Life Cycle Assess 16:65–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Page G, Ridoutt BG, Bellotti W (2011) Fresh tomato production for the Sydney market: an evaluation of options to reduce the environmental impacts of agricultural water use. Agric Water Manag 100:18–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Nunes ABA (2006) Avaliação ex-post da sustentabilidade hídrica e da conservação ambiental de perímetros irrigados implantados—o caso do Perímetro Irrigado Jaguaribe-Apodi (DIJA) [Ex-post evaluation of the hydric sustainability and environmental conservation of Irrigated Districts: the case of Jaguaribe-Apodi (DIJA)]. Phd thesis (Civil engineering-Water Resources). Department of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering, Federal University of Ceará. Fortaleza, 176 p Google Scholar
  40. Pfister S, Koehler A, Hellweg S (2009) Assessing the environmental impact of freshwater consumption in LCA. Environ Sci Technol 43:4098–4104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Pfister S, Bayer P, Koehler A, Hellweg S (2011) Environmental impacts of water use in global crop production: hotspots and trade-offs with land use. Environ Sci Technol 45:5761–5768CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Ridoutt BG, Pfister S (2010) A revised approach to water footprinting to make transparent the impacts of consumption and production on global freshwater scarcity. Global Environ Change 20:113–120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Pfister S, Baumann J (2012) Monthly characterization factors for water consumption and application to temporally explicit cereals inventory. Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on LCA in the Agri-Food Sector, Rennes, FranceGoogle Scholar
  44. Ridoutt BG, Pfister S (2013) A new water footprint calculation method integrating consumptive and degradative water use into a single stand-alone weighted indicator. Int J Life Cycle Assess 18:204–207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sensoy S, Ertek A, Gedik I, Kucukyumuk C (2007) Irrigation frequency and amount affect yield and quality of field-grown melon (Cucumis melo L.). Agr Water Manage 88:269–274CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Silva HR, Costa ND (2003) Melão: produção aspectos técnicos [Melon: technical aspects]. Embrapa, BrasíliaGoogle Scholar
  47. Torres JM, Miquel MJ (2003) La geografía del comercio del melon [The geography of melon production]. http://www.horticom.com/pd/imagenes/54/877/54877.pdf. Accessed 20 February 2013
  48. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) (2011) Global drylands: a UN global system-wide response. http://www.unep-wcmc.org/medialibrary/2011/10/19/3faf1880/Global-Drylands-FINAL-LR.pdf. Accessed 13 February 2012
  49. Vermeiren L, Jobling GA (1986) Localized irrigation: design, installation, operation, evaluation (document 36). FAO, Rome, 203 pGoogle Scholar
  50. Zeng CZ, Bie ZL, Yuan BZ (2009) Determination of optimum irrigation water amount for drip-irrigated muskmelon (Cucumis melo L.) in plastic greenhouse. Agr Water Manage 96:595–602CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Cléa Brito de Figueirêdo
    • 1
    Email author
  • Imke J. M. de Boer
    • 2
  • Carolien Kroeze
    • 3
    • 4
  • Viviane da Silva Barros
    • 1
  • João Alencar de Sousa
    • 1
  • Fernando Antônio Souza de Aragão
    • 1
  • Rubens Sonsol Gondim
    • 1
  • José Potting
    • 3
    • 5
  1. 1.Agroindustry CenterBrazilian Agriculture Research Corporation (Embrapa)FortalezaBrazil
  2. 2.Animal Production Systems GroupWageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Environmental Systems Analysis GroupWageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands
  4. 4.School of ScienceOpen University of The Netherlands, Open UniversiteitHeerlenThe Netherlands
  5. 5.Environmental Strategies Research (fms)KTH Royal Institute of TechnologyStockholmSweden

Personalised recommendations