A critical review

Implementation of sustainable practices to ornamental plant cultivation worldwide

Ornamental production worldwide has changed dramatically in the past 20 years. A globalized scene has shifted production to new countries from Africa, Asia, and South America. Sustainability is the major challenge for ornamental production, and the life cycle assessment (LCA) provides insights on environmental contributions from production to handling and transportation and highlights the problematic issues that need improvement.

For example, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the production costs of roses in different parts of the world may vary dramatically between different production processes (e.g., heated or non-heated greenhouses, with or without air transportation, etc.). On the other hand, the production of landscape plants has the lowest environmental impact of all floricultural products. Their long production period offers carbon sequestrations that reduce the total GHG emissions.

Sustainability is achieved via critical adjustments on cultivation by minimizing fuel and electricity use, adopting integrated nutrient management (INM) and integrated pest and disease management (IPDM), and using recyclable materials and peat-alternative growing compounds.

In a new review, two possible scenarios were proposed for ornamental production. Scenario I suggests conventional, protected cultivation under controlled environments (i.e., greenhouses), which can be sustainable after implementing appropriate adjustments to reduce environmental outputs. Scenario II suggests the cultivation of native and specialty ornamental crops, which may serve as eco-friendly alternatives. Combinations between the two scenarios are also possible in view to implement sustainable practices and meet future consumer needs.

Access the full study at Agronomy.

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