Hydroponic crops are environmentally more sustainable and economically less profitable, according to a thesis of the UPCT

A doctoral thesis developed at the University of Cartagena and directed by Dr. José Francisco Maestre Valero and Bernardo Martín Górriz investigates the environmental and economic impacts of different farming systems; soil and hydroponic cultivation (nutrient film technique), and the use of desalinated seawater and reclaimed water for irrigation. In this thesis, supported in part by the LIFE DESEACROP Project ENV/ES/000341, the main advantages of the implementation of soilless culture systems and the use of desalinated seawater for irrigation are (i) an increase in water yield and productivity and (ii) more environmentally sustainable agriculture. However, the high cost of investment and operation of the nutrient film technique increases the risk associated with investment in these systems compared to soil crops. This study concludes that this model of industrial agriculture and reduced waste could be viable in a situation of scarcity of fertile soils or of reduced availability of water for agriculture or in vulnerable regions where the preservation of the environment is of paramount importance