carbon & water footprint (5)

1 Sep 2016

Carbon Footprint and Variable Costs of Production Components for a Container-grown Evergreen Shrub Using Life Cycle Assessment: An East Coast U.S. Model

Ingram, D.L. (University of Kentucky), Hall, C.R. (Texas A&M University), Knight, J. (University of Kentucky)

Production components of an evergreen shrub (Ilex crenata) grown in a #3 container in an east coast U.S. nursery are analyzed for their costs and contributions to carbon footprint (CF), including product impact in the landscape throughout its life. The propagation-to-landscape CF for an individual plant was 2.337 kg CO2e with variable costs from cutting-to-gate of $3.224. After accounting for carbon sequestered in the landscape by the plant, the plant’s CF drops to -1.445 kg CO2e. Major contributors to CF and costs are discussed. This information can communicate economic and environmental value of green industry products to the consuming public.

HortScience 51 2016 (487 KB)

1 Apr 2016

Comparison of Carbon Footprint and Variable Costs of Selected Nursery Production Systems for a 5-cm-caliper Red Maple

Ingram, D.L. (University of Kentucky) and Hall, C.R. (Texas A&M University)

The objective of this study was to examine the differences in global warming potential (GWP) and variable cost structure of a 5-cm-caliper red maple tree grown using two alternative production methods including a field [balled and burlapped (BNB)] production system and a containerized, pot-in-pot (PIP) production system. Findings indicate that the total system GWP and variable cost for the PIP tree system is -671.42 kg of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) and $250.76, respectively, meaning that the tree sequesters much more carbon during its life than is emitted during its entire life cycle. In the BNB system, the GWP of the tree is -666.15 kg CO2e during its life cycle at a total variable cost of $236.13. 

HortScience 51 383-387 (75 KB)

1 Dec 2015

Life Cycle Assessment Used to Determine Potential Midpoint Environment Impact Factors and Water Footprint of Field-grown Tree Production Inputs and Processes

Ingram, D.L. (University of Kentucky) and Hall, C.R. (Texas A&M University)

This study analyzes environmental impacts such as ozone depletion, smog, acidification, eutrophication, carcinogenic or noncarcinogenic human toxicity, respiratory effects, ecotoxicity, and fossil fuel depletion for 2-in-caliper, field-grown, spade-dug trees. The authors also compared the environmental impacts with other agricultural commodities and determined that trees compare favorably. In addition, the water footprint (WF) associated with tree production is also determined through LCA using the Hoekstra water scarcity method in SimaPro. The propagation-to-gate WF for the three tree production systems ranged from 0.09 to 0.64 m3 per tree and was highly influenced by irrigation water, which was the major contributor to WF for each production system. 

J AMER SOC HORT SCI 140 102-107 (80 KB)

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Description of research activities

A national team of scientists is working to encourage use of alternative water resources by the nation’s billion-dollar nursery and floriculture industry has been awarded funds for the first year of an $8.7 million, five year US Department of Agriculture – National Institute of Food and Agriculture –Specialty Crop Research Initiative competitive grant.

The team will develop and apply systems-based solutions to assist grower decision making by providing science-based information to increase use of recycled water.  This award from the NIFA’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative is managed by Project Director Sarah White of Clemson University.  She leads a group of 21 scientists from nine U.S. institutions.

Entitled “Clean WateR3 - Reduce, Remediate, Recycle – Enhancing Alternative Water Resources Availability and Use to Increase Profitability in Specialty Crops”, the Clean WateR3 team will assist the grower decision-making process by providing science-based information on nutrient, pathogen, and pesticide fate in recycled water both before and after treatment, average cost and return-on investment of technologies examined, and model-derived, site specific recommendations for water management.  The trans-disciplinary Clean WateR3 team will develop these systems-based solutions by integrating sociological, economic, modeling, and biological data into a user-friendly decision-support system intended to inform and direct our stakeholders’ water management decision-making process.

The Clean WateR3 grant team is working with a stakeholder group of greenhouse and nursery growers throughout the United States.

For example, at the University of Florida graduate student George Grant is collecting data on removal of paclobutrazol, a highly persistent plant growth regulator chemical, from recirculated water using granular activated carbon (GAC) filters. This is being done in both research greenhouses and in a commercial site. The GAC filters can remove more than 90% of chemical residues, and are proving to be a cost-effective treatment method.