Resources Sustainability. N Application in Crops to Determine the Best Environmental Performance Using Life Cycle Assessment Methodology

Roberto Quirós, Pere Muñoz


The use of mineral fertilizer in horticultural crops is a very important issue due to its effects on crop yield and its environmental impact. For the period 2011-2012, the total mineral fertilizer consumption in EU-27 reached 10.4 million tons of nitrogen (N), 1.0 million tons of phosphorus (K) and 2.2 million tons of potassium (K). Though many recent studies have examined horticultural crops, few have focused on mineral fertilizers in order to make an environmental assessment of a tomato crop. Therefore, the aim of this research was to study the agronomical (i.e. yield) and the environmental performance of a horticultural tomato crop fertilized with four different doses of mineral fertilizer (N0, N1, N2 and N3), using Life Cycle Assessment methodology. Data and conditions for the crop were taken from a real field trial with an experimental design carried out in North-east Catalonia, Spain. Following the guidelines of the ISO 14044, the study considered all stages of the life cycle of a horticultural tomato crop (i.e. mineral fertilizer production, transport and cultivation phase). Six impact categories were included in the study: climate change, photochemical oxidation formation, land acidification, freshwater and marine eutrophication and fossil depletion. Overall, the results showed that the best result was for the N1 treatment, with a yield of 61 ton ha-1 and 55 ton ha-1 for total and commercial yield, respectively. N1 showed the best environmental performance in all categories assessed.

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Environmental Management and Sustainable Development  ISSN 2164-7682

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