LCA and tomato production in Mediterranean greenhouses
LCA is used to analyse and evaluate the environmental impact associated with the process of greenhouse cultivation of a tomato crop. Tomato production in kg is selected as a functional unit. Three different tomato production processes were compared: soil cultivation and open and closed hydroponic systems. Three different waste management scenarios were also analysed. The most significant negative environmental impacts were identified, enabling the application of the most suitable technology in order to mitigate their effects. The main negative impact of greenhouse tomato production derives from the waste of biomass and plastics, therefore suitable waste management is the best practicable environmental option to reduce this. The composting of biodegradable matter is the best way of managing this kind of waste. Improving the material composition of structures and auxiliary materials is also advised. Lastly, more rational management criteria for the supply of nutrients to the crop will have to be found.
Keywords: environmental damage, greenhouse structure, open hydroponic systems, closed hydroponic systems, soil cultivation, waste management, tomato production, Mediterranean countries, greenhouse cultivation, LCA, lifecycle analysis, lifecycle assessment, environmental impact, biomass waste, plastics waste, composting