Spain: Ifapa tests performance of Raf tomatoes in controlled-environment chambers

Over the first half of the year, the Andalusian Institute of Agricultural Research and Training, Fishing, Food and Organic Production (IFAPA), has carried out several research activities in order to create and promote an innovative business culture, linked to the needs and demands of the food industry in the province of Almeria. These research activities have counted with the participation of the Plant Physiology and Greenhouse Technology group, as well as those devoted to Crop Biotechnology and Post-harvest. 
The Plant Physiology and Greenhouse Technology group has worked on three projects: "Climate control in the Mediterranean greenhouse to extend the production cycle and improve the quality and productivity of horticultural varieties of high commercial value."; "Improvement of the efficiency of carbon dioxide enrichment in Mediterranean conditions; agronomic evaluation of different mitigation strategies for acclimation in high CO2 environments." and "Biogreen. Advanced greenhouse production model."

With the project "Climate control of the Mediterranean greenhouse" experiments were conducted in a controlled-environment growth chamber to determine the response of a hybrid Raf tomato variety to the interaction with salinity and high temperatures. The influence of this interaction on the bio-productivity, leaf photosynthesis and fruit quality (colour, firmness, soluble solids and titratable acidity) has been assessed. 

With the project on "Improving the efficiency of carbon dioxide enrichment in Mediterranean conditions" researchers have tested how carbon enrichment, during relatively long periods, causes a reduction in photosynthetic capacity known as acclimation, which has been linked to changes in carbohydrate levels. An experiment has been carried out with a pepper variety, Melchor, and the results showed an increase in the photosynthetic rate with the increase in CO2 concentration, favoured by the use of ammonium, and confirmed the existence of the acclimation process, which could be the cause of the reduction in the observed production rate increase, detected later with the addition of ammonia.

The "Biogreen" project has been developed by a consortium of several companies in the Andalusian agriculture auxiliary industry: Gogarsa, devoted to the design and construction of greenhouses and soilless systems; Prima-Ram, manufacturer and distributor of climate and irrigation controllers, and Ciatesa, manufacturer of refrigeration equipment. In addition to Ifapa's collaboration, this business consortium has also counted with the contribution of some scientific institutions with great experience and background in the food industry, such as UAL, IRTA, the Experimental Station Las Palmerillas, of Cajamar, and Ciesol. 

The main objective of the project is to develop the technology needed to establish a new greenhouse vegetable production system for arid and semiarid climates that is safe, reliable and highly efficient in the use of natural resources, suitable for operation in both open and semi-closed environments, aimed to improve the productive potential while continuously maintaining high concentrations of CO2.

Crop Biotechnology group
Meanwhile, the Crop Biotechnology group has worked in biotechnology platforms: the Tilling platform for the selection of areas of interest in the genetic improvement of tomato and courgette species, the platform for the improvement of courgettes and arugula, applying methods for the chromatographic detection of antioxidants, sugars and physicochemical flavour parameters; a panel of markers for improvement traits in courgettes, and a quantitative analysis of gene expression in courgettes.

Post-harvest group 
Ifapa's Post-harvest group has focused on the project "Sustainable Development of protected horticulture", with two objectives: to nutritionally characterise various traditional and innovative crops in the province of Almeria, and to characterise the physicochemical and nutritional changes in traditional vegetables subjected to dehydration as a transformation process aimed at increasing the shelf life of these vegetables. 


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