Costa Rica: Project demonstrates that pineapple production does not sterilize soils
In order to demonstrate the productive viability of the soils previously dedicated to pineapple production, Upala Agrícola, a company dedicated to the production and export of fresh grapes, started a crop diversification and rotation project in a field dedicated for over 17 years to the production of conventional pineapple. This project is developed in a one hectare parcel of land of the company which is currently cultivated with traditional crops such as cassava, maize, ayote and papaya.
Alfredo Volio and David Meneses
Engineer Norman Mora, Regional Director Huetar Norte of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) and David Meneses, Coordinator of MAG National Pineapple Program, visited the land where Upala Agrícola is currently developing this agricultural parcel on October 24, 2016. Both Mora and Meneses analyzed the field and offered Hernán García, Technical Services Manager, and Nixon Jiménez, Production Manager of Upala Agrícola, some recommendations to enrich the project, such as determining the trial's baseline, starting with physical, chemical, phytosanitary, microbiological, microfauna and vegetation residues soil analysis.
Thus, in the first phase of this project, the soil samples taken from this plot were sent to the LAMBDA Laboratories and to the Environmental Pollution Research Center (CICA) of the University of Costa Rica (UCR), in order to determine the existence or absence of agrochemical residues in the batch that pineapples have been grown for almost two decades.
The results found by LAMBDA Laboratories did not detect the presence of herbicide residues or any insecticides used. CICA analyzes detected traces of some products used in agricultural work, both in pineapple and other crops that were previously planted in that area of the farm, such as roots and tubers: "The results of the analysis carried out by CICA reaffirms that despite finding some traces of herbicides and pesticides in the soils of the agricultural parcel, the concentration is so low that it does not represent any affectation on the quality of the soils, the crops that grow in these, nor for the people who consume products harvested in this plot, "said the Technical Services Manager of Upala Agricultural.
According to FAO data, about one-third of the world's food production would be lost if farmers did not use chemicals to counteract the effect of crop pests, plant diseases and weed competition. In that context, Alfredo Volio, President of Upala Agrícola, stated that pineapple production in Upala Agrícola is highly regulated: "In terms of pesticides, as part of the pineapple sector, we are a highly regulated company. In our case, in addition to working within the stipulated parameters, we have eliminated the use of products such as bromacil, paraquat and we mainly use green label products. "
Due to the aforementioned, with this year's rainy season beginning in the month of May an area of 4,000 m² was planted with maize and an area of 2,000 m² with squash. In June, each plot was planted with cassava and papaya, each in an area of 2,000 m². As expected, these crops have not been affected by past land use. On the contrary, the development of the plants has been optimum, evidencing that the soils used for the production of pineapple do not become sterile, but on the contrary, the pineapple cultivation is compatible with other agricultural activities.
Thus, the maize crop began at the end of July and the corn harvesting during the first week of August. Hernán García, said that the papaya harvest is expected to begin during the last week of January 2018, and in April cassava, so that as with corn and potatoes, employees and their families can consume these products in their homes.
Cassava and corn
David Meneses, Coordinator of the National Pineapple Program, on a visit to the plot on August 28, 2017, indicated his satisfaction in evaluating the phenological status of each of the products. For Meneses, the four crops have developed optimally, which shows the compatibility of pineapples with other agricultural products that were planted after having dedicated the soil for many years only, to the cultivation of pineapples.
Hernán García, said that this agricultural plot shows that the degradation of soils as a product of pineapple production is just a myth: "The land is not becoming infertile. On the contrary, this land will remain for future generations as agricultural land, mechanizable, suitable for any other necessary food alternative, that adapts to the soil and climate conditions of the Upala area.
Alfredo Volio, President of this agroindustrial company, also indicated that due to the excellent results obtained with this agricultural plot, Upala Agrícola will continue harvesting in this hectare of land, seasonal crops, so that before the end of this year, he will plant beans in this land.
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Publication date: 10/3/2017
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