Priority 8: Metrics for sustainability

Creating Life Cycle Inventory Datasets to Support Meaningful and Constructive Strawberry Production Sustainability Metrics


 Project LeaderMurthy project photo 1

  • Ganti Murthy, Oregon State University, Department of Biological and Ecological Engineering

Project Collaborators

  • Daniel Legard, California Strawberry Commission
  • Kathleen Demchak, Pennsylvania State University, Department of Horticulture
  • Jayson Harper, Pennsylvania State University, Department of Agriculture Economics
  • Joyce Cooper, University of Washington, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Department of Civil
    and Environmental Engineering
  • Brian Hsu, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, National Agricultural Library
  • Susan McCarthy, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, National Agricultural Library


Project Summary

Life-cycle based sustainability metrics for strawberry production are important for continuous environmental and economic improvement, especially as product environmental attributes become a factor in trade. Robust data that support life-cycle based metrics are needed to implement meaningful and constructive sustainability metrics, yet such data do not yet exist for strawberry production or specialty crops as a whole. Therefore, the focus of the project was to 1) investigate state strawberry crop budgets as a formal and reliable source for data; 2) test the data using life-cycle assessment (LCA) results; and 3) suggest sustainability metrics for U.S. strawberry production. Data was collected using an "LCA extended crop budget" to standardize enterprise budget data collection among the top 10 strawberry producing states. Results indicate that LCAs for strawberry production can be performed only with datasets specific to location because the production systems are significantly different across the regions. The LCA results and sustainability metrics will be peer reviewed and publicly disseminated through the USDA-National Agriculture Library LCA Digital Commons.

contribution of various inputs in environmental impact categoriesProject Outputs and Impacts

Enterprise crop budgets from the top 10 strawberry producing states, including California, Florida and North Carolina, were collected and standardized for the LCA Extended Crop Budget tool. Using the data collected with the Crop Budget Tool and existing crop budgets, life-cycle inventory (LCI) data for three strawberry crop management practices were developed for California, Florida and North Carolina. Environmental impacts were quantified using the Tool for the Reduction and Assessment of Chemical and Other Environmental Impacts (TRACI) assessment method. The results indicate that California production has the lowest environmental impact and Florida the highest, largely due to high yields in California and high chemical use in Florida. The use of plastic mulch had the highest contribution to environmental impacts in California, while fertilizers and chemicals had the highest environmental contribution in Florida strawberry production. Materials and fuel use dominated the contribution to environmental impacts in North Carolina strawberry production. Strawberry yield is the determining factor in the LCA analysis; therefore, any strategy to increase strawberry yields without increasing energy intensive inputs would reduce environmental impacts with the LCA. While the LCA can sufficiently analyze crop budgets within a particular state, caution must be used when comparing budgets from multiple states, as methods for data collection may vary.

Environmental impacts for 1 kg of strawberry production.

LCIA Category Unit California Florida North Carolina
Acidification moles of H+ eq 0.0370 0.2086 0.1731
Global Warming g CO2 eq 64.67 412.69 308.22


Project Website