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Open AccessArticle

Life Cycle Assessment of Two Vineyards after the Application of Precision Viticulture Techniques: A Case Study

Department of Natural Resources Management & Agricultural Engineering, Agricultural University of Athens, Iera Odos 75, 11855 Athens, Greece
Institute of Bioeconomy & Agrotechnology, Centre of Research & Technology Hellas, Dimitriados 95 & Pavlou Mela, 38333 Volos, Greece
Laboratory of Viticulture, School of Agriculture, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 54124 Thessaloniki, Greece
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2017, 9(11), 1997;
Received: 12 August 2017 / Revised: 28 August 2017 / Accepted: 6 October 2017 / Published: 1 November 2017
Precision viticulture is the application of site-specific techniques to vineyard production to improve grape quality and yield and minimize the negative effects on the environment. While there are various studies on the inherent spatial and temporal variability of vineyards, the assessment of the environmental impact of variable rate applications has attracted limited attention. In this study, two vineyards planted with different grapevine cultivars (Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah) were examined for four consecutive growing seasons (2013–2016). The first year, the two vineyards were only studied in terms of soil properties and crop characteristics, which resulted in the delineation of two distinct management zones for each field. For the following three years, variable rate nutrient application was applied to each management zone based on leaf canopy reflectance, where variable rate irrigation was based on soil moisture sensors, meteorological data, evapotranspiration calculation, and leaf canopy reflectance. Life cycle assessment was carried out to identify the effect of variable rate applications on vineyard agro-ecosystems. The results of variable rate nutrients and water application in the selected management zones as an average value of three growing seasons were compared to the conventional practice. It was found that the reduction of product carbon footprint (PCF) of grapes in Sauvignon Blanc between the two periods was 25% in total. Fertilizer production and distribution (direct) and application (indirect) was the most important sector of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction, accounting for 17.2%, and the within-farm energy use was the second ranked sector with 8.8% (crop residue management increase GHG emissions by 1.1%, while 0.1% GHG reduction is obtained by pesticide use). For the Syrah vineyard, where the production was less intensive, precision viticulture led to a PCF reduction of 28.3% compared to conventional production. Fertilizers contributed to this decrease by 27.6%, while within-farm energy use had an impact of 2.2% that was positive even though irrigation was increased, due to yield rise. Our results suggest that nutrient status management offers the greatest potential for reducing GHG emissions in both vineyard types. Variable rate irrigation also showed differences in comparison to conventional treatment, but to a lesser degree than variable rate fertilization. This difference between conventional practices and precision viticulture is noteworthy, and shows the potential of precision techniques to reduce the effect of viticulture on GHG emissions. View Full-Text
Keywords: variable rate irrigation; variable rate nutrient application; leaf canopy reflectance; soil moisture; Vitis vinifera L. variable rate irrigation; variable rate nutrient application; leaf canopy reflectance; soil moisture; Vitis vinifera L.
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Balafoutis, A.T.; Koundouras, S.; Anastasiou, E.; Fountas, S.; Arvanitis, K. Life Cycle Assessment of Two Vineyards after the Application of Precision Viticulture Techniques: A Case Study. Sustainability 2017, 9, 1997.

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