Comparative evaluation of water footprint and produce losses in ‘Española’ lettuce cultivated under hydroponic and conventional soil systems
Use of hydroponic systems to grow lettuce has increased continuously in Chile, because of the convenience of presentation and appearance of the final produce. Moreover, for fresh-cut use, lettuce produced by hydroponics is cleaner, more homogeneous and less contaminated. There are some concerns to indicate that the costs involved in its production will adversely affect profit. A comparative study was conducted using available data on growing conditions, production cost, use of water and percentage of produce waste. Hydroponic-grown lettuce is usually sold at 20 to 40% higher prices at market, compared with the same type of soil grown lettuce, both at equal presentation, including individually wrapped in plastic bags. Economic return in the hydroponic crop is US$ 170 per dollar invested in water, whereas, in the soil-grown lettuce, it is US$ 4 per dollar invested in water.
Kern, W., Tapia, M.L., Escalona, V.H. and Lizana, L.A. (2016). Comparative evaluation of water footprint and produce losses in ‘Española’ lettuce cultivated under hydroponic and conventional soil systems. Acta Hortic. 1141, 257-262
market quality, water footprint, production costs, produce waste