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Impact of energy flow optimization on the mitigation of environmental consequences and costs in greenhouse cucumber production

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Cucumber, as a major cultivated plant in Iran, takes up more than 80% of greenhouse production. So, improving the production efficiency can save energy, reduce the environmental consequences and production costs, and also create a lot of job opportunities. The present study aimed to investigate the impact of energy flow optimization on the environmental impacts and costs in greenhouse cucumber production by data envelopment analysis (DEA) and life cycle assessment (LCA) methods. For environmental assessment, human health damage, ecosystem damage, and resource scarcity were considered and analyzed in the form of 8, 12, and 2 impact categories, respectively, using the ReCiPe2016 (H) method on endpoint level. Required data were collected through questionnaire from 30 cucumber growers. The results of the current status of environmental impacts showed the major contribution of fuels (natural gas and diesel) in all three main impact categories. Based on DEA analysis, 19 greenhouses (63%) were identified as inefficient units with a mean efficiency score of 0.70 (TE = 0.7). The highest inefficiency was related to the manure (72%), electricity (71.7%), and fuel (59%), respectively. Electricity and manure showed the highest saving potential, while the highest contribution to total energy saving was related to fuel (87%). Environmental analysis of optimized greenhouses showed that efficient use of inputs can reduce all environmental impacts between 7 and 80%, which highlights the importance of efficient resource management in this study. Also, production costs were decreased by about 67 $ tonne−1 (196 to 129 $) after the optimization of the units.

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This study was supported by Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources University of Khuzestan, Iran. The authors are grateful for the support provided by this University.

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The datasets used and analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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Authors and Affiliations



Farshad Soheilifard: conceptualization, methodology, software, investigation, writing - original draft; Morteza Taki: conceptualization, resources, data curation, writing - review and editing, visualization; Rosalie van Zelm: methodology, software, resources, review and editing.

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Correspondence to Morteza Taki.

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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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Soheilifard, F., Taki, M. & van Zelm, R. Impact of energy flow optimization on the mitigation of environmental consequences and costs in greenhouse cucumber production. Environ Sci Pollut Res 28, 8421–8433 (2021).

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