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Article

Environmental Impacts of Conventional versus Organic Eggplant Cultivation Systems: Influence of Electricity Mix, Yield, Over-Fertilization, and Transportation

1
Research Centre for Carbon Solutions, School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh EH14 4AS, UK
2
Institute for Infrastructure and Environment, School of Engineering, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3JL, UK
3
School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics, University of Plymouth, Plymouth PL4 8AA, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Dimitrios Komilis
Received: 23 January 2021 / Revised: 11 March 2021 / Accepted: 17 March 2021 / Published: 20 March 2021
We report a comparative environmental study of organic and conventional open-field eggplant cultivation systems under Mediterranean (northern Greece) climatic conditions. Actual life cycle inventory (LCI) data were collected from local farm systems. Using life cycle assessment (LCA), organic eggplant cultivation exhibited better environmental performance per unit area (24.15% lower total environmental footprint compared to conventional cultivation), but conventional cultivation performed better per unit of mass (28.10% lower total environmental footprint compared to organic cultivation). The conventional system attained higher scores in eutrophication (up to 37.12%) and ecotoxicity (up to 83.00%) midpoint impact categories, due to the use of chemical fertilizer and pesticide. This highlights the need for spatially explicit LCA that accounts for local environmental impacts at the local scale. For both cultivation systems, the main environmental hotspot was groundwater abstraction for irrigation owing to its infrastructure (drip irrigation pipes and pump) and electricity consumption from the fossil fuel-dependent energy mix in Greece. Excessive addition of soil fertilizer greatly affected the environmental sustainability of both systems, especially conventional cultivation, indicating an urgent need for fertilizer guidelines that enhance environmentally sustainable agricultural practice worldwide. Results were sensitive to lower marketable fruit yield, with the organic system performing better in terms of environmental relevance with respect to maximum yield. When renewable energy sources (RES) were used to drive irrigation, both systems exhibited reductions in total environmental footprint, suggesting that RES could help decarbonise the agricultural sector. Finally, eggplant transportation greatly affected the environmental sustainability of both cultivation systems, confirming that local production and consumption are important perquisites for environmental sustainability of agricultural products. View Full-Text
Keywords: life cycle analysis; agricultural sector; non-organic farming; renewable energy; aubergine; nightshade life cycle analysis; agricultural sector; non-organic farming; renewable energy; aubergine; nightshade
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MDPI and ACS Style

Foteinis, S.; Hatzisymeon, M.; Borthwick, A.G.L.; Chatzisymeon, E. Environmental Impacts of Conventional versus Organic Eggplant Cultivation Systems: Influence of Electricity Mix, Yield, Over-Fertilization, and Transportation. Environments 2021, 8, 23. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8030023

AMA Style

Foteinis S, Hatzisymeon M, Borthwick AGL, Chatzisymeon E. Environmental Impacts of Conventional versus Organic Eggplant Cultivation Systems: Influence of Electricity Mix, Yield, Over-Fertilization, and Transportation. Environments. 2021; 8(3):23. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8030023

Chicago/Turabian Style

Foteinis, Spyros, Maria Hatzisymeon, Alistair G.L. Borthwick, and Efthalia Chatzisymeon. 2021. "Environmental Impacts of Conventional versus Organic Eggplant Cultivation Systems: Influence of Electricity Mix, Yield, Over-Fertilization, and Transportation" Environments 8, no. 3: 23. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8030023

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