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Life cycle carbon footprint analysis and improvement strategies for US maple syrup production

Project purpose
Maple syrup producers can influence greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with production practices. We will conduct a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of maple syrup production, focusing on energy and GHG impacts. 

Activities to be performed
We will partner with the North American Maple Syrup Council and Mike Farrell to recruit producers and inventory their operations over two production seasons, estimating energy use and GHG emissions associated with their production systems. Variables considered include method of sap collection, processing technology, and fuels. We will use these estimates to develop an online calculator for any producer to determine the GHG emissions per gallon of syrup they produce. We will inventory a third production season to evaluate effects of altered practices. We will also explore the carbon storage and sequestration potential in maple forests, including opportunities to increase this potential.

Deliverables and expected outcomes
The calculator will help any producer understand the impact that changes in production practices will have on GHG emissions and will highlight opportunities for reducing this impact. Producers will be able to lower fuel costs, increase their profitability, and move the maple industry to be more climate conscious. We will present this work at the NAMSC Annual Meeting and to state maple associations, as well as in academic and maple syrup trade journals.

Intended beneficiaries
The audience for this work is all maple syrup producers, who will benefit by using the GHG calculator to understand where to make process changes to reduce their emissions, fuel use, and costs.

Collaborator(s)
North American Maple Syrup Council
The Forest Farmers
Sponsor(s)
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Research Areas
Food Systems and Consumer Products
Food & Agriculture