Environmental impact of tomato production under different hydroponic systems

F.T. Tewolde, M. Takagaki, T. Oshio, T. Maruo, T. Kozai, Y. Kikuchi
This study aimed to evaluate the environmental burden of three hydroponic tomato production systems using partial life cycle assessment (LCA). System-1 was modified nutrient film technique (NFT), in which the solution does not flow longitudinally but rather horizontally and it secures an even nutrient solution to each plant. System-2 was traditional NFT system in which the nutrient solution was recirculating the whole day continuously. System-3 was a tray that had 10 growing pots of 250 mL volume. These pots were filled with granulated rock wool and used a drip-irrigation system activated by a solar radiation threshold. All inputs and outputs of each hydroponic system were classified into structural materials, cultivation inputs and waste. The analysis shows that the environmental burden from cultivation was significantly higher for all three systems than the environmental burden from structural materials and waste. Among inputs considered under cultivation, the environmental burden from fertilizer was the highest as a result of production. However, use emissions were not considered as all systems were closed loops. System-2 had a high total environmental impact because of its considerably higher resource consumption compared to others. Water had significantly a lower environmental burden in all systems. However, all systems had different water consumptions and System-3 was the lowest for water consumption. The environmental burden from fertilizer could be minimized by a proper fertigation schedule and it needs to be examined in more detail and improved as it is the most visible environmental burden. An efficient irrigation schedule would also directly minimize the overall environmental burden due to its direct relation with all inputs used during cultivation.
Tewolde, F.T., Takagaki, M., Oshio, T., Maruo, T., Kozai, T. and Kikuchi, Y. (2016). Environmental impact of tomato production under different hydroponic systems. Acta Hortic. 1112, 267-271
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1112.63
LCA, environmental impact, hydroponics, greenhouse tomato production

Acta Horticulturae