Exploring sustainability potentials in vineyards through LCA? Evidence from farming practices in South Africa

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Russo , V , Strever , A E & Ponstein , H J 2021 , ' Exploring sustainability potentials in vineyards through LCA? Evidence from farming practices in South Africa ' , International journal of life cycle assessment , vol. 26 , pp. 1374-1390 . https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-021-01911-3

Title: Exploring sustainability potentials in vineyards through LCA? Evidence from farming practices in South Africa
Author: Russo, V.; Strever, A. E.; Ponstein, Helena J.
Contributor organization: Department of Economics and Management
Date: 2021-07
Language: eng
Number of pages: 17
Belongs to series: International journal of life cycle assessment
ISSN: 0948-3349
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-021-01911-3
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/333375
Abstract: Following the urgency to curb environmental impacts across all sectors globally, this is the first life cycle assessment of different wine grape farming practices suitable for commercial conventional production in South Africa, aiming at better understanding the potentials to reduce adverse effects on the environment and on human health.Purpose Following the urgency to curb environmental impacts across all sectors globally, this is the first life cycle assessment of different wine grape farming practices suitable for commercial conventional production in South Africa, aiming at better understanding the potentials to reduce adverse effects on the environment and on human health. Methods An attributional life cycle assessment was conducted on eight different scenarios that reduce the inputs of herbicides and insecticides compared against a business as usual (BAU) scenario. We assess several impact categories based on ReCiPe, namely global warming potential, terrestrial acidification, freshwater eutrophication, terrestrial toxicity, freshwater toxicity, marine toxicity, human carcinogenic toxicity and human non-carcinogenic toxicity, human health and ecosystems. A water footprint assessment based on the AWARE method accounts for potential impacts within the watershed. Results and discussion Results show that in our impact assessment, more sustainable farming practices do not always outperform the BAU scenario, which relies on synthetic fertiliser and agrochemicals. As a main trend, most of the impact categories were dominated by energy requirements of wine grape production in an irrigated vineyard, namely the usage of electricity for irrigation pumps and diesel for agricultural machinery. The most favourable scenario across the impact categories provided a low diesel usage, strongly reduced herbicides and the absence of insecticides as it applied cover crops and an integrated pest management. Pesticides and heavy metals contained in agrochemicals are the main contributors to emissions to soil that affected the toxicity categories and impose a risk on human health, which is particularly relevant for the manual labour-intensive South African wine sector. However, we suggest that impacts of agrochemicals on human health and the environment are undervalued in the assessment. The 70% reduction of toxic agrochemicals such as Glyphosate and Paraquat and the 100% reduction of Chlorpyriphos in vineyards hardly affected the model results for human and ecotoxicity. Our concerns are magnified by the fact that manual labour plays a substantial role in South African vineyards, increasing the exposure of humans to these toxic chemicals at their workplace. Conclusions A more sustainable wine grape production is possible when shifting to integrated grape production practices that reduce the inputs of agrochemicals. Further, improved water and related electricity management through drip irrigation, deficit irrigation and photovoltaic-powered irrigation is recommendable, relieving stress on local water bodies, enhancing drought-preparedness planning and curbing CO2 emissions embodied in products.
Subject: 1172 Environmental sciences
Life cycle assessment
Wine grapes
South Africa
Water footprint
Carbon footprint
Irrigation
Scenario analysis
LIFE-CYCLE ASSESSMENT
WINE PRODUCTION
CARBON FOOTPRINT
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS
RED WINE
MANAGEMENT
PERFORMANCE
CONSUMPTION
VITICULTURE
SECTOR
Peer reviewed: Yes
Rights: cc_by
Usage restriction: openAccess
Self-archived version: publishedVersion


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