Agron. Sustain. Dev.
Volume 28, Number 4, October-December 2008
Page(s) 489 - 495
Published online 21 June 2008
Agron. Sustain. Dev. 28 (2008) 489-495
DOI: 10.1051/agro:2008024

High decrease in nitrate leaching by lower N input without reducing greenhouse tomato yield

P. Muñoz1, A. Antón1, A. Paranjpe1, J. Ariño2 and J.I. Montero1

1  IRTA, Carretera de Cabrils km 2, 08348 Cabrils, Barcelona, Spain
2  SELMAR, Masía de can Ratés s/n, 08348 Santa Susanna, Barcelona, Spain

Accepted 29 April 2008; published online 21 June 2008

Abstract - Nitrate pollution due to excessive N fertirrigation in greenhouse tomato production is a persisting environmental concern in the Mediterranean region. Driven by productivity rather than sustainability, growers continue to use very high N concentrations of more than 11 mM in greenhouse tomato production. A greenhouse study was conducted in Barcelona, Spain, over two growing seasons to analyze the effect of N concentrations from 5 mM to 11 mM (control) on tomato yield and physical quality. The relative environmental impact was calculated by using the life cycle assessment method (LCA). Our results show that N concentration in the nutrient solution can be reduced from 11 mM (control) to 7 mM under a daily mean drainage volume of 30%. This finding implies a 70% decrease in nitrate leaching without reducing tomato yield or quality. According to life cycle assessment, a reduction of 36% in N fertilizers leads to a 60% decrease in the potential impact of eutrophication, 50% decrease in the potential impact of climate change, and 45% decrease in the potential impact of photochemical oxidants.

Key words: Lycopersicon esculentum L. / water-use efficiency / LCA / hydroponics

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© INRA, EDP Sciences 2008