2003-2005: Sustainability of
the UK strawberry crop (Ref. HH3606NSF)
The desire for agricultural
sustainability is well recognised in the UK’s agricultural industry and
is now accepted by most farmers although its implementation was
restricted by lack of sound environmental impact data that considered
the production cycle overall. It is only with the development of risk
assessment techniques and sophisticated models to map environmental
fate that the problem could be addressed. Combining economic appraisal
with environmental impact assessment allows more informed judgements to
be made on possible socio-economic impacts and provide a better
assessment of the sustainability of UK food production.
burdens such as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and primary energy
consumption in agricultural systems has important implications for the
mitigation of climate change and improving resource efficiency.
Strawberry (Fragaria xananassa Duch) crops are a key component of the
UK soft fruit sector and may be grown by a number of different methods,
many of which use materials such as plastics to extend the growing
season. This study identified a total of 14 production systems with six
additional sub-systems grown for between one and three years. Main
variables that defined a system were growing short-day (Junebearer) or
everbearer varieties, organic production, covering with polytunnels or
grown in the open, soil grown (with or without fumigation) or container
grown (with peat or coir substrate) and summer or spring planted. The
study has calculated the global warming potential after 100 years
(GWP100), primary energy consumption, nitrogen loss, soil erosion, net
margin, labour requirement and visual impact.
This project was carried out
in collaboration with East Malling Research and industry
representatives and growers applied environmental impact, economic
& social impact assessment techniques to a range of strawberry
production scenarios to develop a better understanding of the
sustainability of the UK crop. Key factors included materials used for
tunnels, mulch and irrigation pipe, the sterilisation of soil with
fumigants, delivery of irrigation water and the use of peat substrate
in some container grown crops. Seasonal crops without covers grown
where a rotation of sufficient length reduced Verticillium had the
smallest environmental burdens per tonne of class 1 fruit. In soil
grown systems a second or third cropping year prolonged the useful life
of mulch, soil fumigants and fuel consumed during bed preparation and
distributed burdens between multiple as opposed to single crops. The
use of covers tended to improve efficiency most during year one,
favourable in container and organic systems.
- Warner, D.J., Davies, M.,
Hipps, N., Osborne,
N., Tzilivakis, J. & Lewis, K.A. (2010). Greenhouse gas emissions
and energy use in UK-grown short-day strawberry (Fragaria xananassa
Duch) crops. Journal of Agricultural Science, 148(6):
- Warner, D.J., Davies, M.,
Hipps, N., Osborne, N., Tzilivakis, J. & Lewis, K.A. (2005). Sustainability
of UK Strawberry Crop. Final report for Defra project HH3606.
- Warner, D.J., Tzilivakis,
J., Hipps, N.,
Davies, M., Osborne, N., & Lewis, K.A. (2003). Environmental impact
assessment of the UK strawberry crop. Proceedings of the
International Fertiliser Society and Dahlia Greidinger Symposium.
Izmir, Turkey, 7 – 10 December 2003, pages 396 - 398.
Dr Doug Warner