Eco-Efficiency Assessment and Food Security Potential of Home Gardening: A Case Study in Padua, Italy
1.1. A Renewed Urban Agriculture
“farming operations taking place in and around the city that beyond food production provides environmental services (soil, water, and climate protection; resource efficiency; biodiversity), social services (social inclusion, education, health, leisure, cultural heritage), and supports local economies by a significant direct urban market orientation” .
1.2. Home Gardens
1.3. Goal and Objectives
- What are the environmental burdens of home gardens?
- What is the economic balance of vegetables production in home gardens?
- How can garden design and management promote eco-efficiency?
- How does a home garden contribute to the food security of home gardeners?
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Case Study
- Soil preparation (SP): Soil was manually dug and aerated as preparation for the crops.
- Protected crops (PC): Autumn-winter cycles of peas, spinach, chard and lettuces were protected with non-woven fabric. While only seedlings were protected for peas, tunnels were installed for the rest of the crops.
- Seeding (S) and Transplanting (TP): Commercial seeds or seedlings were used in the garden, depending on the crop and variety.
- Organic fertilization (OF): During soil preparation, plant nutrition was provided to all the crops homogeneously with initial fertilization of industrial compost (dosage of 1 kg·m−2).
- Mineral fertilization (MF): Fertilization was completed with a mineral fertilization with NPK (6-12-24) (dosage of 75 g·m−2) and ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) (dosage of 25 g·m−2) for most of the crops.
- Crop rotation (CR): In two occasions, mineral fertilization was avoided as crops (i.e., lettuce, chicory) occurred after legumes (i.e., string beans) and nitrogen content was considered optimal.
2.2. Environmental and Economic Life Cycle Assessment
2.2.1. Goal and Scope
2.2.2. Life Cycle Inventory
- Soil occupation: The implementation of the home garden implied the occupation of an unevenly built urban land for the entire crop period.
- Auxiliary equipment—Cultivation: Some winter crops required auxiliary equipment to protect them from adverse temperatures as well as a plant net to sustain proper growth. Peas and spinach were protected with non-woven fabric, which was raised above the ground with unused drawers to avoid growth hindrance. Lettuce and chard were grown in a tunnel made of non-woven fabric and supported by rods. The non-woven fabric was made of virgin polypropylene (density of 30 g·m−2) with lifespan of 5 years. The tunnel rods were made of galvanized steel, considering 95% recycled steel content. According to the design, the total amount of steel was of 463 g·m−2 (considering 3 rods per square metre—0.75 linear metre) with lifespan of 15 years. A plant net, which was employed to sustain the growth of climbing species (i.e., peas), was made of virgin polypropylene (density of 20 g·m−2) with a lifespan of 5 years. While the gardener obtained these products at a local store (5 km) and transported them in a private car, the production site was assumed as regional (50 km) and the distribution transport was considered to be performed with a 7.5 ton-lorry.
- Auxiliary equipment—Irrigation: The irrigation system included irrigation tubes that supply tap water from the house. The tubes were made of high-density polyethylene and were distributed in the garden at a ratio of 2 m·m−2. They weighed 70.5 g per linear meter and had a lifespan of 3 years. Distribution distance was considered for a regional supply (50 km) with a 7.5 ton-lorry. The gardener bought the irrigation materials at a store 20 km away.
- Seeds: While seeds production was excluded from the system boundaries following a mass cut-off criterion , transportation was included. The distribution distance was of 215 km, while the gardener acquired the seeds at the local market (5 km).
- Seedlings: The production of the seedlings was excluded due to lack of data and following a mass cut-off criterion. The life cycle data reported for seedlings included the production and transportation of 20 g of peat . The distribution distance was assumed as regional (50 km) and the seedling were obtained at the local market (5 km).
- Water: Water consumption depended on the crop period length and the season. As mentioned in Section 2.1, a homogeneous irrigation rate between 5 L·m−2·day−1 and 7 L·m−2·day−1 of tap water was provided to the crops depending on the season. Irrigation rate was lower for cold days (01/10 to 30/04) than for warm days (01/05 to 30/09), in order to adapt to plant evapotranspiration. Irrigation was performed manually, implying that the gardener opened and closed the tap to provide the required amount of water without the need for auxiliary equipment to time and regulate the same.
- Organic fertilization: Industrial compost was used for organic mineralization. LCI for the manufacturing of industrial compost was obtained from the literature .
- Mineral fertilization: NPK 6-12-24 and ammonium nitrate were employed as mineral fertilizers (dosages indicated above).
- N air emissions from fertilization: Air emissions of different nitrogen components occurred due to the application of fertilizers, depending on the content of nitrogen and its form. According to Audsley  and Brentrup et al. , the NH3 volatilization from simple fertilizers was considered as 2% of the total nitrogen content (Equation (1)), and 4% for complex fertilizers (i.e., NPK) (Equation (2)). The N2O emissions represented 1.25% of the total nitrogen content (Equation (3)) and NOx emissions were 10% of the N2O emissions (Equation (4)). The total amount in the three fertilizers depended on the nitrogen content and humidity. Data from producers were obtained for this calculation: 2.15% nitrogen content and 37% humidity for compost; 6% nitrogen content for NPK, and 34% nitrogen content for ammonium nitrate:
- N lixiviates were excluded from the system boundaries as no measured data were available.
- Pest management: Pest control treatments were performed only once on crops, a few days after transplanting using 25 L of copper oxychloride (Cu2(OH)3Cl) at a concentration of 3.5 g·L−1 (in well water).
2.2.3. Life Cycle Impact Assessment
2.2.4. Life Cycle Costing
2.2.5. Data Quality and Geographical Adaptation
2.3. Food Security Potential
- HEALTH: The World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that a healthy diet contains, “At least 400g (five portions) of fruits and vegetables a day”, excluding potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava and other starchy roots .
- SUPPLY: The Food Balance Sheets of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO/UN) indicated that food supply in 2013 in Italy for vegetables was of 123.13 kg·year−1·p−1 .
- CONSUMPTION: The average Italian consumption, according to data from the Italian National Food Consumption Survey (INRAN-SCAI 205-06) , accounted for the daily average consumption of vegetables as 211.2 g·day−1 (including 43.1 g of leafy vegetables, 41.9 g of tomatoes and 30.9 of other fruiting vegetables).
3.1. Environmental Impact of a Home Garden
Normalized Values for the European Region
3.2. Contribution of Life Cycle Stages
3.3. Home Garden Design: Crop Impacts
3.4. Economic Cost and Eco-Efficiency Analysis
3.5. Food Security Potential
4.1. Eco-Efficiency and Crop Management
4.2. Implications of Crop Design
Conflicts of Interest
Appendix A. Cost Data
|Nonwoven fabric||11.75||€/kg||Specialized seller|
|Tunnel rods||5.55||€/kg||Specialized seller|
|Plant net||12.55||€/kg||Specialized seller|
|Tap water||0.00139||€/L||Local water provider|
|Seeds *||6.4–30||€/kg||Specialized seller|
|Seedlings *||0.14–3.53||€/p||Average of market prices|
|Industrial compost||1.6||€/kg||Specialized seller|
|NPK 6-12-24||5.50||€/kg||Specialized seller|
|Ammonium nitrate NH4NO3||0.575||€/kg||Specialized seller|
|Copper sulfate||5.00||€/kg||Specialized seller|
Appendix B. Indicators’ Contribution to the Normalized Impact
Appendix C. Cost Comparison with Market Prices
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|Crop||Area||Cycle (Days)||Yield||Agronomic Practices|
|Fennel||Foeniculum vulgare||4||127||90||37||8.3||X||X (48)||X||X|
|Peas||Pisum sativum||4||216||182||34||2.4||X||X||X(250 g)||X||X|
|Spinach||Spinacia oleracea||1||146||146||0||3||X||X||X(20 g)||X|
|Chard||Beta vulgaris||0.7||151||151||0||10||X||X||X (12)||X|
|Lettuce “Cappuccia”||Lactuca sativa||1.3||134||134||0||3||X||X||X (12)||X|
|Cabbage “Cappuccio”||Brassica oleracea||1||77||32||45||4.7||X||X (6)||X||X|
|Chicory “Grumulo”||Cichorium intybus||1||130||32||98||7.7||X||X (1.5 g)||X||X|
|Lettuce “Gentile”||Lactuca sattiva||1||82||32||50||3.2||X||X (12)||X||X|
|String bean||Phaseolus vulgaris||2||90||11||79||1.9||X||X (120 g)||X||X|
|Zucchini||Cucurbita pepo||4||99||11||88||3.9||X||X (8)||X||X|
|Celery||Apium gravoelens||0.7||96||11||85||4||X||X (8)||X||X|
|Tomato (bunch)||Lycopersicum esculentum||1||148||11||137||14.5||X||X (4)||X||X|
|Tomato (table)||Lycopersicum esculentum||1||148||11||137||10.6||X||X (6)||X||X|
|Pepper||Capsicum annuum||1.5||183||11||172||5.1||X||X (6)||X||X|
|Eggplant||Solanum melongena||1||163||11||152||7.7||X||X (2)||X||X|
|String bean||Phaseolus vulgaris||2||92||0||92||1.8||X||X (120 g)||X||X|
|Lettuce “Cappuccia”||Lactuca sativa||1.2||56||0||56||2.9||X||X (12)||X||X|
|Chicory “Catalogna”||Cichorium intybus||0.5||51||0||51||10.6||X||X (12)||X||X|
|Celery||Apium gravoelens||0.7||81||0||81||3.6||X||X (8)||X||X|
|Chicory “Treviso” (Early)||Cichorium intybus||1.3||107||29||78||1.6||X||X (12)||X||X|
|Savoy cabbage “Verza”||Brassica oleracea||2||88||27||61||5.0||X||X (12)||X||X|
|Distributor [Lorry]||Gardener [Car]||Treatment||Transport [Lorry]|
|Nonwoven fabric||PP (100% virgin)||kg||50 km||5 km||50% landfill 50% recycled||10 km|
|Tunnel rods||Galvanized steel||kg|
|Plant net||PP (100% virgin)||kg|
|Tubes||HDPE||kg||50 km||5 km|
|Seeds *||Seeds||kg||215 km||5 km||-||-|
|Seedlings *||Peat (seedling substrate)||kg||50 km||5 km||-||-|
|Fertilizers *||Industrial compost||kg||50 km||20 km||-||-|
|NPK 6-12-24||kg||50 km||5 km||-||-|
|NH4NO3||kg||50 km||5 km||-||-|
|Pest management||Well water||L||-||-||-||-|
|Cu2(OH)3Cl||kg||50 km||5 km||-||-|
|Climate change (CC)||kg CO2 eq||2.68 × 10−1||1.32||4.34 × 101|
|Ozone depletion (OD)||kg CFC-11 eq||1.38 × 10−8||6.80 × 10−8||2.24 × 10−6|
|Terrestrial acidification (TA)||kg SO2 eq||1.43 × 10−3||7.03 × 10−3||2.32 × 10−1|
|Freshwater eutrophication (FEU)||kg P eq||8.68 × 10−5||4.27 × 10−4||1.40 × 10−2|
|Marine eutrophication (MEU)||kg N eq||3.66 × 10−4||1.80 × 10−3||5.92 × 10−2|
|Human toxicity (HT)||kg 1.4-DB eq||2.25 × 10−1||1.10||3.64 × 101|
|Photochemical oxidant formation (POF)||kg NMVOC||8.72 × 10−4||4.29 × 10−3||1.41 × 10−1|
|Particulate matter formation (PMF)||kg PM10 eq||4.30 × 10−4||2.11 × 10−3||6.96 × 10−2|
|Terrestrial ecotoxicity (TET)||kg 1.4-DB eq||3.52 × 10−5||1.73 × 10−4||5.69 × 10−3|
|Freshwater ecotoxicity (FET)||kg 1.4-DB eq||2.17 × 10−2||1.07 × 10−1||3.51|
|Marine ecotoxicity (MET)||kg 1.4-DB eq||1.91 × 10−2||9.40 × 10−2||3.09|
|Ionizing radiaton (IR)||kBq U235 eq||1.77 × 10−2||8.70 × 10−2||2.86|
|Agricultural land occupation (ALO)||m2a||5.66 × 10−3||2.78 × 10−2||9.16 × 10−1|
|Urban land occupation (ULO)||m2a||7.41 × 10−2||3.64 × 10−1||1.20 × 101|
|Natural land transformation (NLT)||m2||3.84 × 10−5||1.88 × 10−4||6.21 × 10−3|
|Water depletion (WD)||m3||5.94 × 10−1||2.92||9.62 × 101|
|Metal depletion (MD)||kg Fe eq||4.08 × 10−2||2.01 × 10−1||6.61|
|Fossil depletion (FD)||kg oil eq||5.09 × 10−2||2.50 × 10−1||8.23|
|CC||kg CO2 eq||3.01 × 10−1||7.92 × 10−2||8.24 × 10−1||4.43 × 10−1||7.92 × 10−2||7.26 × 10−1|
|OD||kg CFC-11 eq||1.55 × 10−8||4.41 × 10−9||4.05 × 10−8||2.27 × 10−8||4.41 × 10−9||3.57 × 10−8|
|TA||kg SO2 eq||1.58 × 10−3||3.73 × 10−4||4.51 × 10−3||2.38 × 10−3||3.73 × 10−4||3.98 × 10−3|
|FEU||kg P eq||1.03 × 10−4||3.31 × 10−5||2.64 × 10−4||1.40 × 10−4||3.13 × 10−5||2.33 × 10−4|
|MEU||kg N eq||4.51 × 10−4||1.55 × 10−4||1.13 × 10−3||5.85 × 10−4||1.27 × 10−4||9.99 × 10−4|
|HT||kg 1.4-DB eq||2.74 × 10−1||9.30 × 10−2||6.87 × 10−1||3.60 × 10−1||7.90 × 10−2||6.09 × 10−1|
|POF||kg NMVOC||1.00 × 10−3||2.90 × 10−4||2.65 × 10−3||1.43 × 10−3||2.90 × 10−4||2.33 × 10−3|
|PMF||kg PM10 eq||4.79 × 10−4||1.23 × 10−4||1.32 × 10−3||7.10 × 10−4||1.23 × 10−4||1.17 × 10−3|
|TET||kg 1.4-DB eq||3.88 × 10−5||9.95 × 10−6||1.06 × 10−4||5.82 × 10−5||9.95 × 10−6||9.33 × 10−5|
|FET||kg 1.4-DB eq||2.67 × 10−2||9.40 × 10−3||6.57 × 10−2||3.46 × 10−2||7.55 × 10−3||5.83 × 10−2|
|MET||kg 1.4-DB eq||2.36 × 10−2||8.31 × 10−3||5.81 × 10−2||3.05 × 10−2||6.64 × 10−3||5.15 × 10−2|
|IR||kBq U235 eq||1.93 × 10−2||5.04 × 10−3||5.10 × 10−2||2.92 × 10−2||5.04 × 10−3||4.62 × 10−2|
|ALO||m2a||5.84 × 10−3||1.24 × 10−3||1.57 × 10−2||9.44 × 10−3||1.24 × 10−3||1.66 × 10−2|
|ULO||m2a||7.60 × 10−2||1.44 × 10−2||1.96 × 10−1||1.20 × 10−1||1.44 × 10−2||2.56 × 10−1|
|NLT||m2||4.16 × 10−5||1.09 × 10−5||1.12 × 10−4||6.33 × 10−5||1.09 × 10−5||9.95 × 10−5|
|WD||m3||6.33 × 10−1||1.59 × 10−1||1.64||9.82 × 10−1||1.59 × 10−1||1.63|
|MD||kg Fe eq||4.96 × 10−2||1.65 × 10−2||1.24 × 10−1||6.55 × 10−2||1.44 × 10−2||1.10 × 10−1|
|FD||kg oil eq||5.62 × 10−2||1.47 × 10−2||1.51 × 10−1||8.39 × 10−2||1.47 × 10−2||1.32 × 10−1|
© 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Sanyé-Mengual, E.; Gasperi, D.; Michelon, N.; Orsini, F.; Ponchia, G.; Gianquinto, G. Eco-Efficiency Assessment and Food Security Potential of Home Gardening: A Case Study in Padua, Italy. Sustainability 2018, 10, 2124. https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072124
Sanyé-Mengual E, Gasperi D, Michelon N, Orsini F, Ponchia G, Gianquinto G. Eco-Efficiency Assessment and Food Security Potential of Home Gardening: A Case Study in Padua, Italy. Sustainability. 2018; 10(7):2124. https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072124Chicago/Turabian Style
Sanyé-Mengual, Esther, Daniela Gasperi, Nicola Michelon, Francesco Orsini, Giorgio Ponchia, and Giorgio Gianquinto. 2018. "Eco-Efficiency Assessment and Food Security Potential of Home Gardening: A Case Study in Padua, Italy" Sustainability 10, no. 7: 2124. https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072124