Certified organic agriculture stipulates a set of principles and standards which run farmer practices. The current global demand for organic food has raised new challenges for organic agriculture, which can be difficult to address when management is subject to the forces of conventionalisation. Using production of highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) as a target crop, we analyze environmental impacts comparing three different types of management in south-central Chile: conventional orchards (CO), orchards with organic management based on input substitution (OI), and orchards with organic management based on agroecological principles (OA). We compare these production systems from an environmental and economical perspective using four blueberry orchards for each type of management. Impacts in global warming (referred to as greenhouse gas emissions), acidification, and freshwater eutrophication were estimated using Life Cycle Analysis. Production costs and fruit yields were also quantified for each orchard studied. Blueberry yields were not different among farming systems, although OA achieved the highest one (8.47 ton/ha), with the lowest both cost of production (2265 US $/ha yr.). All environmental impacts were higher for CO. Overall, OA turned out as the most efficient production systems both from an environmental and economic perspective.
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