DOI: 10.3390/su152416636 ISSN: 2071-1050

A Multipurpose Sustainable Farming System for Tobacco Crops in the Mediterranean Area

Maria Isabella Sifola, Luisa del Piano, Daniele Todisco, Giulia Graziani, Salvatore Faugno, Maura Sannino, Rossella Piscopo, Antonio Salluzzo, Eugenio Cozzolino
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Building and Construction

The present study aimed to test a multipurpose sustainable tobacco farming system allowing more efficient use of production factors (e.g., mineral N fertilizer) thanks to larger commercial yields, albeit diversified (smoke products, bioactive compounds for nutraceutical and cosmeceutical uses, energy), per unit of land area. Three tobacco types (dark air-cured, IBG; light air-cured, Bu; dark fire-cured, Ky) were grown in the field in 2021 on three different soils (sandy clay loam, SCL; sandy loam, SL; clay loam, CL). The total waste biomass (WB, kg dry weight, d.w. ha−1) was measured. Commercial leaves yield (CLY, kg d.w. ha−1), N agronomic efficiency (NAE, kg d.w. kg−1 N), total polyphenols content (TP, mg kg−1 d.w.), antioxidant activity (ABTS, DPPH and FRAP, mmol Trolox Equivalent, TE, kg−1 d.w.) and yield of polyphenols (PY, kg ha−1) were determined. The calorific value (CV, MJ kg−1 d.w.), volatile matter (VM, %) and ash contents (%) were also measured, and biomass energy yield (BEY, GJ ha−1 yr−1) was then calculated. Very high percentages (>40%) of total biomass produced by the different tobacco types were pre-harvest waste. NAE increased by 2- to more than 8-fold thanks to a greater potential commercial biomass produced with the same amount of N fertilizer used. Four main components were found in the tobacco polyphenols profile, namely 3-O-CQA, luteolin 7 rutinoside, rutin and quinic acid, which accounted for more than 80% of TP. BEY ranged between 122.3 GJ ha−1 yr−1 (Bu) and 29.9 GJ ha−1 yr−1 (Ky). Both polyphenols yield and energy potential per unit land area and/or per growing season appeared competitive with those from other herbaceous crops. The proposed multipurpose system appeared as a production circuit characterized by a virtuous and sustainable flow of resources.

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