Environmental LCA and Carbon Footprint of Cauliflower as Produced in Southeast Spain
Southern Spain has an optimal climate for growing fruits and vegetables. Over 39,534 ha are currently dedicated to the production of cauliflower and broccoli in Spain, 33% of which correspond to the Region of Murcia. This type of intensive agriculture causes environmental impacts which must be quantified and minimized as much as possible. This study details the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of cauliflower production with a cradle-to-farm-gate approach using precise and updated primary data from local producers. Foreground inventory data was collected for the nursery and on-field stages, including energy use, consumption, application and diffusion of fertilizers and pesticides, machinery and transport to the packaging center. Ecoinvent v3.6 datasets were adapted to the characteristics of the system for background inventory and the EF 3.0 method was used for evaluation. The carbon footprint of 1 kg of cauliflower was estimated at 91.2 g CO2eq. Impact values for the same functional unit in other categories were as follows: Photochemical ozone formation 3.33E-04 kg NMVOC eq., Acidification 3.41E-04 mol H+ eq., Freshwater eutrophication 2.27E-05 kg P eq. The mitigation practices in cauliflower production should focus on energy use during irrigation and reduced use of pesticides.