The feasibility of growing Euphorbia peplus in a container farm

In a study by Bafort, Kohnen, Maron, Bouhadada, Ancion, Crutzen, and Jijakli, the feasibility of growing Euphorbia peplus in a container farm has been investigated. 

Vertical farming is considered a potential solution to increase yield while decreasing resource use and pesticide impacts compared to conventional agriculture. However, the profitability of cultivating ordinary leafy green crops with low market prices in vertical farming is debated.

We studied the agronomic feasibility and viability of growing a medicinal plant—Euphorbia peplus—for its ingenol-mebutate content in a modified shipping container farm as an alternative crop cultivation system.

The impacts of three hydroponic substrates, three light intensities, three plant localizations, and two surface areas on E. peplus yield and cost were tested in several scenarios. The optimization of biomass yield and area surface decreased the cultivation cost, with fresh crop cost per kg ranging from €185 to €59.

Three ingenol-mebutate extraction methods were tested. The best extraction yields and cheapest method can both be attributed to ethyl

acetate at 120 °C, with a yield of 43.8 mg/kg at a cost of €38 per mg. Modeling of the profitability of a pharmaceutical gel based on ingenol-mebutate showed that economic feasibility was difficult to reach, but some factors could rapidly increase the profitability of this production.

Source: Bafort, F., Kohnen, S., Maron, E., Bouhadada, A., Ancion, N., Crutzen, N., & Jijakli, H. (17 March 2022). The Agro-Economic Feasibility of Growing the Medicinal Plant Euphorbia peplus in a Modified Vertical Hydroponic Shipping Container. Horticulturae, 8 (3), 256. doi:10.3390/horticulturae8030256  

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