Modeling Container-grown Euphorbia pulcherrima Production System Components: Impacts on Carbon Footprint and Variable Costs Using a Life Cycle Assessment

in HortScience

A model production system for a 15.2-cm poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) in the north Atlantic region of the United States was developed through grower interviews and best management practices and analyzed using a life cycle assessment (LCA). The model system involved direct sticking of unrooted cuttings. The propagation phase was 4 weeks, followed by 9 weeks of irrigation using a boom system and 4 weeks of flood-floor irrigation. The carbon footprint, or global warming potential (GWP), for the plant was calculated as 0.474 kg carbon dioxide equivalent (kg CO2e), with a variable cost of $1.030. Major contributors to the GWP were the substrate and filling pots, fertilization, the container, irrigation, and overhead electricity. The major contributors to variable costs were the unrooted cuttings and labor to prepare and stick ($0.471). Furthermore, the substrate and filling containers and irrigation were notable contributors. Material inputs accounted for 0.304 kg CO2e, whereas equipment use was estimated to be 0.163 kg CO2e, which comprised 64.2% and 35.8% of total GWP, respectively. Material inputs accounted for $0.665 (64.6%) of variable costs, whereas labor accounted for 19.6% of variable costs for this model. Water use per plant was 77.2 L with boom irrigation for the 9 weeks during production spacing (32.8 plant/m2) and represented 64% of the total water use. LCA was an effective tool for analyzing the components of a model system of greenhouse-grown, flowering, potted plants. Information gained from this study can be used by growers considering system alterations to improve efficiency.

Contributor Notes

This manuscript is based on work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Specialty Crop Research Initiative, under award number 2014-51181-22372.

Special thanks to Dr. John Lea-Cox and Mr. Bruk Belayneh for their insight regarding water use for this greenhouse production model.

Corresponding author. E-mail: dingram@uky.edu.

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    Contribution of the model production system components to the global warming potential (GWP) at the farm gate for 15.2-cm Euphorbia pulcherrima grown in the north Atlantic region of the United States.

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    Contribution of the model production system components to variable costs at the farm gate for 15.2-cm Euphorbia pulcherrima grown in the north Atlantic region of the United States.

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