AGRONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE OF MELON PRODUCED IN THE BRAZILIAN SEMIARID REGION
ABSTRACT This study evaluates the agronomic and environmental performance of yellow melons produced in an experimental area in Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, using conventional methods and alternative systems of cultivation based on the rotation of melons with green manure crops. Two types of alternative management systems were evaluated, spanning twelve treatments: i) tillage, with the incorporation of the green manure biomass into the soil via the subsequent planting of melons into that residue, and ii) no tillage, with the maintenance of the biomass on the soil surface with subsequent planting of melons. Agronomic performance was evaluated by statistical analysis of productivity, while environmental performance was evaluated by analyzing the carbon footprint, according to ISO 14067. Agronomic analysis showed that rotation of melons with maize and Brachiaria resulted in a higher yield of melons for export. Assessment of the carbon footprint of this system in relation to the conventional system showed that the rotation system presented a lower carbon footprint. A scenario analysis showed that the carbon footprint can be further reduced by 42.54%, if: i) production takes place in areas already cultivated for more than 20 years, ii) the amount of inorganic nitrogen applied is reduced by 50%, and iii) commercialization of melons begins in the United States. This study shows the importance of rotating melons with green manure crops to increase production in the semiarid region and reduce the carbon footprint of this fruit.