Environmental impact assessment of olive production using Life Cycle Assessment: A case study, Tarom county, Zanjan province

Document Type : Scientific - Research


1 Department of Agroecology, Environmental Sciences Research Institute, Shahid Beheshti University, Iran

2 Agriculture and Natural Resources Research and Training Center, Zanjan, Iran


Horticulture industry consumes a significant part of the energy and materials and release pollutants into the environment. Olive (Olea europaea L.) is one of the most cultivated plants in Iran, so the environmental impact assessment of these production systems is important. However, the consequences and environmental impacts of olive production systems have not been studied in Iran. Tarom County is one of the most important olive production centers in Iran. So, this study is performed to evaluate environmental impacts of olive production in Tarom region.
Materials and Methods
In this study, the LCA approach is used to assessment of environmental impacts of olive production. This study is conducted in Tarom County in 2012-2013. The aim of this study was to determine hot spots of olive life cycle and offering appropriate Solutions to reduce the related environmental impact in Tarom region. In this research, one ton of Olives was considered as functional unit. System boundary is defined as “from cradle to farm gate”.
Primary data were collected through observation, sampling and questionnaires completing method. The climate and soil data were collected from the "Olive Research Center" located in the Tarom County. Data for the production of used inputs (Secondary data) were taken from the EcoInvent®2.0 database, and SimaPro software was employed to analyze primary data.
Impact categories were analyzed based on CML 2 baseline 2000 V2.04/ world, 1995/ characterization and SimaPro 7.2 software. CML 2 baseline 2000.
Results and Discussion
The obtained data from inventory are presented in the table 1. These data includes Inputs and outputs of olive production system in Tarom olive systems.
Table 1- Inputs and outputs of olive production system (per 1 ton olive).
Amount Unit Inputs
48.04 kg Diesel fuel
Chemical fertilizer
62.8 kg Urea
53.9 kg Triple Super Phosphate
46.4 kg Potassium sulphate
5.6 kg Pesticides
1222 kg Farmyard manure
476 KW/h Electricity
3.34 ton olive produced (ha)
Emission to water
0 kg Nitrate
0 kg Phosphate
Emission to air
0 kg Denitrifictation
15.03 kg NH‌3
0.804 kg N2O
2.5 kg NOx
150.87 kg CO2
1.72 kg CO
kg Pesticides

The results were concluded through analyzing collected data by using of SimaPro 7.2. The results are presented in Figure 1 and Table 2.

Fig. 1- Contribution of production and use of inputs to environmental impact categories in olive production system.
Table 2- Life cycle indicators per 1 ton of produced olive.
Total Unit Impact category
7.89 kg Sb eq Abiotic Depletion
30.6 kg SO2 eq Acidification
8.25 kg PO4 eq Eutrophication
1290 kg CO2 eq Global Warming
0.000323 kg CFC-11 eq Ozone layer depletion
414 kg 1,4-DB eq Human Toxicity
848 kg 1,4-DB eq Fresh water aquatic ecotox
848 kg 1,4-DB eq Fresh water aquatic ecotox.
173000 kg 1,4-DB eq Marine aquatic ecotox.
10.4 kg 1,4-DB eq Terrestrial Ecotoxicity
0.27 kg C2H4 eq Photochemical Oxidation

The results showed that the production of olive in Tarom region is lead to high environmental impacts. In this regard, production systems of olive in Tarom create more than two times higher environmental impact in seven impact categories (Abiotic resource depletion, acidification, global warming potential, ozone layer depletion, to freshwater aquatic ecotoxicity, marine aquatic ecotoxicity and toxicity to terrestrial ecotoxicity) and it has fewer environmental impact in eutrophication impact category compared to olive production systems in similar studies. Moreover, data analysis showed that fertilizer production and direct emission have most shares in pollution making of olive production systems. The main reason for this difference was more use of inputs (especially fertilizers and electricity), not using of improved varieties and micronutrient fertilizers, inefficient use of inputs and lack of management in the olive gardens in Tarom region. Therefore, lack of management was due to the Low literacy level of olive growers and their knowledge of the appropriate management in the olive garden in Tarom region.
The results showed the LCA approach can use to assessment of environmental impacts of olive production in Tarom city. Also, data analysis showed that fertilizer production and direct emission have most shares in pollution making of olive production systems.


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