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Life Cycle Assessment of Tomato Cultivated in an Innovative Soilless System


  • Maria Concetta Pedalà

    (Circular S.R.L., Via Libertà 34, 90141 Palermo, Italy)

  • Marzia Traverso

    (Institute of Sustainability in Civil Engineering, RWTH Aachen University, 52062 Aachen, Germany)

  • Simona Prestigiacomo

    (Department of Agricultural, Food and Forest Sciences, University of Palermo, Viale delle Scienze, Build. 4, 90128 Palermo, Italy)

  • Antonio Covais

    (Circular S.R.L., Via Libertà 34, 90141 Palermo, Italy)

  • Giovanni Gugliuzza

    (CREA Research Centre for Plant Protection and Certification, c/o Dip. SAAF Unipa, Viale delle Scienze, Build. 4, 90128 Palermo, Italy)


The main goal of this study is to present the life cycle assessment results of an innovative closed-loop production system, called an agriponic system, used for producing tomatoes. In the study, this new system is presented, as well as its related environmental impacts generated for the production of the tomatoes. A life cycle assessment (according to ISO 14040) was applied to it, from seedling purchase and planting to harvest, using a functional unit of 1 ton of cherry tomatoes produced. SimaPro software and the Ecoinvent database were used to analyze five impact categories. Plant growth emerged as the process unit with the highest impact, particularly for the ozone depletion potential (ODP), with a value of 0.00056 kgCFC-11eq, and for photochemical oxidation (POCP), with a value of 0.0784 kgC 2 H 4 eq impact categories. Greenhouse climate management presented a significant impact to the acidification potential (AP), with a value of 1.021 kgSO 2 eq. Conversely, the phases of plant transplanting, harvesting, and crop disposal had positive impacts for all impact categories considered in the study, because they were very low. In conclusion, agriponic greenhouse tomato production is a sustainable process. This is due to fewer pesticides that are used, and to nutrient solution reuse.

Suggested Citation

  • Maria Concetta Pedalà & Marzia Traverso & Simona Prestigiacomo & Antonio Covais & Giovanni Gugliuzza, 2023. "Life Cycle Assessment of Tomato Cultivated in an Innovative Soilless System," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 15(21), pages 1-16, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:15:y:2023:i:21:p:15669-:d:1275055

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Robert H. Beach & Benjamin J. DeAngelo & Steven Rose & Changsheng Li & William Salas & Stephen J. DelGrosso, 2008. "Mitigation potential and costs for global agricultural greenhouse gas emissions-super-1," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 38(2), pages 109-115, March.
    2. Silvia Solimene & Daniela Coluccia & Alessandro Bernardo, 2023. "Environmental Impact of Different Business Models: An LCA Study of Fresh Tomato Production in Italy," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 15(13), pages 1-17, June.
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