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Emergy Evaluation of Semi-Arid Watersheds under Different Management Strategies

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Transactions of the ASABE. 56(6): 1357-1363. (doi: 10.13031/trans.56.9951) @2013
Authors:   Helba Araújo de Queiroz Palácio, Eunice Maia de Andrade, Júlio César Neves dos Santos, José Ribeiro de Araújo Neto, Paulilo Palácio Brasil
Keywords:   Brazilian semi-arid region, Caatinga, Emergy, Emergy indicators, Environmental sustainability.
<italic>Abstract. </italic>

Due to the environmental impacts generated by economic activities and faced with the challenge of producing food for an increasing population, the sustainability of production methods should be analyzed to determine those with the highest relative yield and the least degradation of the environment. Seeking alternatives for sustainable use of the caatinga biome, this research tested two types of management strategies in watersheds of the semi-arid region in Iguatu, Ceará, Brazil, and compared them to a preserved area of caatinga. To evaluate the performance of the systems, an emergetic methodology, suggested by H. T. Odum, was used. The thinned area showed the best emergy results, with a transformity of 12,975 seJ J-1, while the preserved area and that planted with grass presented transformities of 14,477 and 22,062 seJ J-1, respectively. Through the activity of thinning, where the energy produced was 45% higher, the transformity was lower than that of the unchanged caatinga, showing that the investment in labor for thinning was offset by an increase in energy production. The high transformity of the untouched caatinga indicates that better use could be made of the available resources. This system could be used for beekeeping, ecological tourism, or any other activity that, as with thinning, would not alter the system beyond its capacity for tolerance but that would allow a more efficient use of the natural resources.

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