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Table 5

SWOT analysis of water reuse in hydroponic systems for German conditions: Threats

Threats
MaterialImmaterial
Water treatmentPlant productionEnvironment
  • Water reuse can be critical for water bodies with low water levels. The reduction of the discharge can affect river ecosystems, especially in summer.

 
Operation and management
  • The attitude of the horticultural sector towards the new production system is unclear regarding concerns or competition.

  • There is no experience of marketing production systems like this.

Economy
  • The food sector is very sensitive about product quality and at the same time highly competitive. It might be difficult for single producers to receive binding and stable contracts for purchase.

  • The operator needs to identify a good and reliable entry point into marketing his products and relies on a respective partner in food trading if there are no plans for self-sale, e.g. farmers’ markets.

Actors and institutions (law)
  • Uncertainty and unpredictability about the media's views on the topic. There are different options for how the media will deal with it. This can range from promoting the positive image of regional food production and closed nutrient cycles to telling horror stories about product quality due to potential risks from the origin of the irrigation water.

  • The system is not fully subject to self-governance of public and private entities. Permits from local and regional state authorities are a necessity and might be difficult to get due to lack of experience and knowledge. This can present a challenge for the planning and implementation process.

  • It is not currently possible to receive organic certification for such crops, as organic products have to be produced in soil. Labelling as a regional product is possible, but dependent on the strength of the region's identity and integration.

Values and standards (sustainability)
  • Consumers might be scared of the fact that the products are grown with irrigation water from wastewater and they might not accept the system or its products.

 
Threats
MaterialImmaterial
Water treatmentPlant productionEnvironment
  • Water reuse can be critical for water bodies with low water levels. The reduction of the discharge can affect river ecosystems, especially in summer.

 
Operation and management
  • The attitude of the horticultural sector towards the new production system is unclear regarding concerns or competition.

  • There is no experience of marketing production systems like this.

Economy
  • The food sector is very sensitive about product quality and at the same time highly competitive. It might be difficult for single producers to receive binding and stable contracts for purchase.

  • The operator needs to identify a good and reliable entry point into marketing his products and relies on a respective partner in food trading if there are no plans for self-sale, e.g. farmers’ markets.

Actors and institutions (law)
  • Uncertainty and unpredictability about the media's views on the topic. There are different options for how the media will deal with it. This can range from promoting the positive image of regional food production and closed nutrient cycles to telling horror stories about product quality due to potential risks from the origin of the irrigation water.

  • The system is not fully subject to self-governance of public and private entities. Permits from local and regional state authorities are a necessity and might be difficult to get due to lack of experience and knowledge. This can present a challenge for the planning and implementation process.

  • It is not currently possible to receive organic certification for such crops, as organic products have to be produced in soil. Labelling as a regional product is possible, but dependent on the strength of the region's identity and integration.

Values and standards (sustainability)
  • Consumers might be scared of the fact that the products are grown with irrigation water from wastewater and they might not accept the system or its products.

 
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