The carbon calculator developed during this project is a major milestone for the pistachio industry in California. Research has been performed to implement a life cycle analysis of greenhouse gases in pistachio production; however, none of the studies produced a tool that could be used by growers to track carbon dioxide in their orchard operations. The goal of this project was to calculate the net energy efficiency and greenhouse gases of California pistachio production, processing and distribution. This is done by modeling the average practices used, studying the degree of variation that exists within the industry, and providing information on improvements in the specific sectors.
Growers can now use this online calculator to collect data on carbon use within the orchards, which is important to the growth of the pistachio industry. The goals and procedure of this project can also be extrapolated to other nut crops such as almonds and walnuts. This is important because a vast amount of the state land’s carbon footprint attributed to orchard activities could be reduced. Defining life cycle assessments of greenhouse gas emissions for California’s unique and special crops will meet consumer demands for production information on environmental impacts.
- Test the cultural practice survey, developed on industry practices and carbon-energy consumption, and complete the web-based version of the software.
- Monitor soil carbon turnover rates and contributions to soil organic matter development in different orchard floor management systems. This was done by analyzing the data and establishing relationships between carbon dioxide flux, temperature and moisture conditions, as well as studying seasonal and diurnal variations.
- Perform studies on pollination in pistachios. This phase of the project is vital to growers because there have been few studies about products that help synchronize pollination in male and female pistachios.
All phases of this project have been completed and the goal was achieved. Several Fresno State undergraduate and graduate students were involved in this project. “Ranging from digging up root systems, dissecting trees, weighing leaf and tree trunks, harvests and monitoring growth cycles,” said Bruce Roberts, project director.
Although the life cycle assessment of greenhouses gases came to a close and results were promising, there is still a need for ongoing research with different locations, years and weather conditions to make this research representative for the entire state of California.
This project was funded by the Agricultural Research Initiative (ARI) and the final report can be found at https://ari.calstate.edu/Projects/ProjectDetails.aspx?ProjectNumber=11-02-013
Project Director: Roberts, Bruce
Written By: Courtney Meinhold