Life Cycle Assessment of Conventional, Organic Green-House and Hydroponic Tomato Cultivation Systems in Abu Dhabi, UAE

  • Mona Almarzooqi

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


The aim of this study is to assess and compare the lifecycle impacts of three cultivation systems (conventional open field, organic green-house, and hydroponic) for tomato production in the UAE. The impacts associated with crop production were estimated for all aspects of cultivation: infrastructure, land preparation, fertilizer use, crop management, pesticide use and harvesting. We use one kg of loose commercial tomato as the functional unit (reference point for comparing between the results). Along with environmental impacts, the demand for energy and water from these phases were estimated to identify the most sustainable option. The lifecycle inventories were created using primary data collected from farm operators and secondary data collected from literature and available databases. The life cycle assessment (LCA) was performed with SimaPro v.8, using the TRACI 2.0 approach (Canada, 2005). The impact categories were chosen based on their relevance to the agricultural processes. This assessment enabled the identification of environmental hot spots in each of the systems so that performance improvements can be made. The results showed that the highest environmental impact in the conventional open field system stems from water consumption: 83% and land preparation: 15%. While for the organic greenhouse system the main environmental impacts were a results of electricity consumption: 49% and the greenhouse cooling water requirements 25%. The main environmental impact of the hydroponic system resulted from the hydroponic greenhouse structure: 57% and electricity requirements: 36%. Comparing the three systems to each other hydroponics had the largest impacts by far in all the categories except for Ozone depletion that organic greenhouse had the highest impact in. the main outcomes of the study shows that having the higher yields and lower irrigation water in hydroponics comes with heavy toll on the broader environment.
Date of AwardJul 2018
Original languageAmerican English


  • Environmental impact
  • LCA
  • Agriculture
  • Arid Environment

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