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  1. The recent decade has witnessed an increase in irrigated acreage in the southeast United States due to the shift in cropping patterns, climatic conditions, and water availability. Peanut, a major legume crop cultivated in Georgia, Southeast United States, has been a staple food in the American household. Regardless of its significant contribution to the global production of peanuts (fourth largest), studies related to local or regional scale water consumption in peanut production and its significant environmental impacts are scarce. Therefore, the present research contributes to the water footprint of peanut crops in eight counties of Georgia and its potential ecological impacts. The impact categories relative to water consumption (water depletion—green and blue water scarcity) and pesticide use (water degradation—potential freshwater ecotoxicity) using crop-specific characterization factors are estimated for the period 2007 to 2017 at the mid-point level. These impacts are transformed into damages to the area of protection in terms of ecosystem quality at the end-point level. This is the first county-wise quantification of the water footprint and its impact assessment using ISO 14046 framework in the southeast United States. The results suggest inter-county differences in water consumption of crops with higher blue water requirements than green and grey water.more »According to the water footprint analysis of the peanut crop conducted in this study, additional irrigation is recommended in eight Georgia counties. The mid-point level impact assessment owing to water consumption and pesticide application reveals that the potential freshwater ecotoxicity impacts at the planting and growing stages are higher for chemicals with high characterization factors regardless of lower pesticide application rates. Multiple regression analysis indicates blue water, yield, precipitation, maximum surface temperature, and growing degree days are the potential factors influencing freshwater ecotoxicity impacts. Accordingly, a possible impact pathway of freshwater ecotoxicity connecting the inventory flows and the ecosystem quality is defined. This analysis is helpful in the comparative environmental impact assessments for other major crops in Georgia and aids in water resource management decisions. The results from the study could be of great relevance to the southeast United States, as well as other regions with similar climatic zones and land use patterns. The assessment of water use impacts relative to resource availability can assist farmers in determining the timing and layout of crop planting.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  2. Fertilizers and pesticides have been widely used in agriculture production, causing polluted soil, water, and atmosphere. This study aims to quantify air emissions from pesticides and fertilizers applied for peanut production in Georgia during selected years (1991, 1999, 2004, 2013, and 2018). Specifically, the oral and dermal potential impacts from pesticide emissions and the global warming potential (GWP) impact from fertilizers to air were investigated. This study followed the ISO 14040 series standards for life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology to assess six active ingredients (AIs) (2,4-DB, Bentazon, Chlorothalonil, Ethalfluralin, Paraquat, and Pendimethalin) and one greenhouse gas (nitrous oxide N2O). Their physical and chemical characteristics and the temporal scales greatly influenced the oral and dermal toxicity impacts. According to the low values obtained for Henry’s law (KH) and vapor pressure (VP), 2,4-dichlorophenoxy butanoic (DB), Pendimethalin, and Chlorothalonil have a higher impact on the continental air scale. The effect factor (EF) from oral exposure was higher in 2,4-DB, Bentazon, and Pendimethalin than dermal exposure, according to the relatively low lethal dose (LD50) for oral exposure, while the EF of Ethalfluralin and Chlorothalonil was the same for oral and dermal exposure according to their similar LD50.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2023
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2022
  4. Life cycle impact assessment (LCA) provides a better understanding of the energy, water, and material input and evaluates any production system’s output impacts. LCA has been carried out on various crops and products across the world. Some countries, however, have none or only a few studies. Here, we present the results of a literature review, following the PRISMA protocol, of what has been done in LCA to help stakeholders in these regions to understand the environmental impact at different stages of a product. The published literature was examined using the Google Scholar database to synthesize LCA research on agricultural activities, and 74 studies were analyzed. The evaluated papers are extensively studied in order to comprehend the various impact categories involved in LCA. The study reveals that tomatoes and wheat were the major crops considered in LCA. The major environmental impacts, namely, human toxicity potential and terrestrial ecotoxicity potential, were the major focus. Furthermore, the most used impact methods were CML, ISO, and IPCC. It was also found that studies were most often conducted in the European sector since most models and databases are suited for European agri-food products. The literature review did not focus on a specific region or amore »crop. Consequently, many studies appeared while searching using the keywords. Notwithstanding such limitations, this review provides a valuable reference point for those practicing LCA.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2022
  5. Land is a natural resource that humans have utilized for life and various activities. Land use/land cover change (LULCC) has been of great concern to many countries over the years. Some of the main reasons behind LULCC are rapid population growth, migration, and the conversion of rural to urban areas. LULC has a considerable impact on the land-atmosphere/climate interactions. Over the past two decades, numerous studies conducted in LULC have investigated various areas of the field of LULC. However, the assemblage of information is missing for some aspects. Therefore, to provide coherent guidance, a literature review to scrutinize and evaluate many studies in particular topical areas is employed. This research study collected approximately four hundred research articles and investigated five (5) areas of interest, including (1) LULC definitions; (2) classification systems used to classify LULC globally; (3) direct and indirect changes of meta-studies associated with LULC; (4) challenges associated with LULC; and (5) LULC knowledge gaps. The synthesis revealed that LULC definitions carried vital terms, and classification systems for LULC are at the national, regional, and global scales. Most meta-studies for LULC were in the categories of direct and indirect land changes. Additionally, the analysis showed significant areas of LULCmore »challenges were data consistency and quality. The knowledge gaps highlighted a fall in the categories of ecosystem services, forestry, and data/image modeling in LULC. Core findings exhibit common patterns, discrepancies, and relationships from the multiple studies. While literature review as a tool showed similarities among various research studies, our results recommend researchers endeavor to perform further synthesis in the field of LULC to promote our overall understanding, since research investigations will continue in LULC.« less
  6. The Indian Himalayan Region is home to nearly 50 million people, more than 50% of whom are dependent on springs for their sustenance. Sustainable management of the nearly 3 million springs in the region requires a framework to identify the springs most vulnerable to change agents which can be biophysical or socio-economic, internal or external. In this study, we conceptualize vulnerability in the Indian Himalayan springs. By way of a systematic review of the published literature and synthesis of research findings, a scheme of identifying and quantifying these change agents (stressors) is presented. The stressors are then causally linked to the characteristics of the springs using indicators, and the resulting impact and responses are discussed. These components, viz., stressors, state, impact, and response, and the linkages are used in the conceptual framework to assess the vulnerability of springs. A case study adopting the proposed conceptual model is discussed for Mathamali spring in the Western Himalayas. The conceptual model encourages quantification of stressors and promotes a convergence to an evidence-based decision support system for the management of springs and the dependent ecosystems from the threat due to human development and climate change.
  7. Biochar’s ability to amend and remediate agricultural soil has been a growing interest, though the energy expenses from high-temperature pyrolysis deter the product’s use. Therefore, it is urgent to improve the pyrolysis efficiency while ensuring the quality of produced biochar. The present study utilized three types of feedstock (i.e., switchgrass, biosolid, and water oak leaves) to produce biochar via conventional slow pyrolysis and microwave pyrolysis at different temperature/energy input. The produced biochar was characterized and comprehensively compared in terms of their physiochemical properties (e.g., surface functionality, elemental composition, and thermal stability). It was discovered that microwave-mediated biochar was more resistant to thermal decomposition, indicated by a higher production yield, yet more diverse surface functional groups were preserved than slow pyrolysis-derived biochar. A nutrient (NO3-N) adsorption isotherm study displayed that microwave-mediated biochar exhibited greater adsorption (13.3 mg g−1) than that of slow pyrolysis-derived biochar (3.1 mg g−1), proving its potential for future applications. Results suggested that microwaves pyrolysis is a promising method for biochar production.