Ecological Indicators | VOL. 43

Energy balance and greenhouse gas emissions in organic and conventional avocado orchards in Mexico

Publication Date Aug 1, 2014


Abstract There is a worldwide growing awareness of the negative impacts of the increasing fossil fuel reliance and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture, in particular for intensive crop systems. We analyze the energy balances and greenhouse gas emissions from export-oriented avocado orchards in Mexico. Avocado is a very important export crop and one of the main drivers of land-use change in the country. We compared 12 avocado orchards under organic and conventional management during two production cycles (2010 and 2011) in a representative region of Central Mexico. Our analysis shows no significant differences in energy consumption and GHG emissions between organic and conventional systems with 55 and 56 GJ ha−1, and 3.30 t CO2 equiv. ha−1 and 3.57 t CO2 equiv. ha−1, respectively. Organic systems show three times more use of renewable energy than their conventional counterparts. However both systems depend heavily on fossil fuel inputs, machinery and N-fertilizers (synthetic or organic). Also, there is a high heterogeneity in management practices and input application within both systems, which is reflected in a large variation of their energy-related parameters. Given that avocado production is rapidly expanding in Mexico, a move toward organic production without systematically changing toward less fossil fuel dependent agricultural practices would not be sufficient to ensure a sustainable production.


Greenhouse Gas Emissions Avocado Orchards Heterogeneity In Management Practices CO2 Equiv Use Of Renewable Energy Avocado Production Energy-related Parameters Conventional Counterparts Conventional Management Production Cycles

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