Alessandro Suardi

Abstracts

2 Current Harvesting Methods for Jatropha curcas L.

Authors: Luigi Pari, Alessandro Suardi, Enrico Santangelo

Abstract:

In the last decade Jatropha curcas L. (an oleaginous crop native to Central America and part of South America) has raised particular interest owing to of its properties and uses. Its capsules may contain up to 40% in oil and can be used as feedstock for biodiesel production. The harvesting phase is made difficult by the physiological traits of the specie, because fruits are in bunches and do not ripen simultaneously. Three harvesting methodologies are currently diffused and differ for the level of mechanization applied: manual picking, semi-mechanical harvesting, and mechanical harvesting. The manual picking is the most common in the developing countries but it is also the most time consuming and inefficient. Mechanical harvesting carried out with modified grape harvesters has the higher productivity, but it is very costly as initial investment and requires appropriate schemes of cultivation. The semi-mechanical harvesting method is achieved with shaker tools employed to facilitate the fruit detachment. This system resulted much cheaper than the fully mechanized one and quite flexible for small and medium scale applications, but it still requires adjustments for improving the productive performance. CRA-ING, within the European project Jatromed (http://www.jatromed.aua.gr) has carried out preliminary studies on the applicability of such approach, adapting an olive shaker to harvest Jatropha fruits. The work is a survey of the harvesting methods currently available for Jatropha, show the pros and cons of each system, and highlighting the criteria to be considered for choosing one respect another. The harvesting of Jatropha curcas L. remains a big constrains for the spread of the species as energy crop. The approach pursued by CRA-ING can be considered a good compromise between the fully mechanized harvesters and the exclusive manual intervention. It is an attempt to promote a sustainable mechanization suited to the social context of developing countries by encouraging the concrete involvement of local populations.

Keywords: South America, Harvesting, jatropha curcas, energy crop, central america

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1 LCA and LCC for the Evaluation of Sustainability of Rapeseed, Giant Reed, and Poplar Cultivation

Authors: Alessandro Suardi, Rodolfo Picchio, Domenico Coaloa, Maria Bonaventura Forleo, Nadia Palmieri, Luigi Pari

Abstract:

The reconversion process of the Italian sugar supply chain to bio-energy supply chains, as a result of the 2006 Sugar CMO reform, have involved research to define the best logistics, the most adapted energy crops for the Italian territory and their sustainability. Rapeseed (Brassica napus L.), Giant reed (Arundo donax L.) and Poplar (Poplar ssp.) are energy crops considered strategic for the development of Italian energy supply-chains. This study analyzed the environmental and the economic impacts on the farm level of these three energy crops. The environmental assessment included six farming units, two per crop, which were extracted from a sample of 251 rapeseed farm units (2751 ha), 7 giant reed farm units (7.8 ha), and 91 poplar farm units (440 ha) using a statistical multivariate analysis. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) research method has been used to evaluate and compare the sustainability of the agricultural phases of the crops studied. The impact analyses have been performed at mid-point and end-point levels. The results of the analysis shown that the fertilization, is the major source of environmental impact of the agricultural phase due to the production of the fertilizers and the soil emissions of GHG following the treatment. The perennial energy crops studied (Arundo donax L., Poplar ssp.) were environmentally more sustainable if compared with the annual crop (Brassica napus L.) for all the impact categories at mid-point and end-point levels analyzed. The most relevant impact category influenced by the agricultural process result the fossil depletion, mainly due to the fossil fuels consumed during the mineral fertilizers production (urea). Human health was the most affected damage category at the end point level. Poplar result the energy crop with the best environmental performance for the Italian territory, in the distribution areas most suitable for its cultivation.

Keywords: Energy Crops, LCA, rapeseed, giant reed, poplar

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