Iran is one of the main producers of sugar beet in the Middle East. Despite its great contribution to both local and global environmental impact, agricultural production systems in Iran is not very well investigated environmentally. This study characterizes some aspects of the environmental emissions inventory of sugar beet production in Iran, and compares the environmental performance of different cropping systems which include mechanized, semi-mechanized and traditional systems. Life cycle assessment methodology was used to classify and quantify the environmental emissions of sugar beet production. The life cycle inventory data reflect the cultivation profile of 93 sugar beet farms in 26 locations in Khorasan region in the east of Iran. Results of this study demonstrated that sugar beet produced in more mechanized cropping systems, can help reduce environmental emissions per functional unit. Comparing different cropping systems in each location evaluated in this study, only 19.7% of Khorasan sugar beet area performed well from the viewpoint of heavy metal emissions to water and soil, nitrate leaching and total emissions to air. The results suggest the maximum allowable levels of main environmental emissions for the discussion of improving the overall environmental profile of Iranian sugar beet, as well as these allowable levels in each cropping systems.
Key words: Sugar beet, agricultural products,life cycle assessment, environmental emissions, Iran.
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