Economic analysis of hydroponic lettuce under floating root system in semi-arid climate

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Rosa Pertierra Lazo
Jimmy Quispe Gonzabay


Soilless culture, production costs, investment, greenhouse crop, Lactuca sativa L.


Soilless crops are a farming alternative to marginal soils  with limited water availability; which are widespread in the province of Santa Elena (PSE), Ecuadorian coast. This province has semi-arid climate. Hydroponics have worldwide high productivity per unit area, save water and allows cultivation cycles throughout the year. Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) is a cold-season crop, the most representative crop in hydroponic cultivation, but currently it is not cultivated in the Ecuadorian coastal area. The objective of this study was to analyze the economic-financial viability of lettuce cultivation under hydroponic system of floating root. Four lettuce cultivation experiments were carried out with cv. Crespa, using the Hoagland and Arnon nutrient solution. Yields and costs were extrapolated to an infrastructure of 1,000 m2 equivalent to an effective productive area of 240 m2. The assumptions used in the analysis were: all production is sold, working days were calculated according to the law, 5-year projection, stock of inventory for a week, the sale is wholesale, and the profit margin in Year 1 is 30% and increasing in the following periods. Under these criteria, the production cost (in US dollars) per unit amounted to USD 0.49/unit and the sale price to USD 0.70/unit. The total investment totaled USD 27,077.99, the NPV USD 58,581.07, with an IRR of 40% and a benefit-cost ratio of 1.26; so economically-financially the project was considered viable.
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