A project carried out by researchers of the Institute of Agricultural and Fisheries Research and Training (Ifapa) of the Andalusian Council of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Sustainable Development and the company Trops SAT has brought to light new data on the irrigation needs of avocados and proper water management in the Andalusian subtropical coast. The goal is to optimize the crop's profitability.
The study, published in the prestigious international magazine Agricultural Water Management, has been presented as a useful tool to improve water management for both current and future irrigation. Based on forecasts about the extent of the impact of climate change in the area, the crop's water supply should amount to 5,300 m3 / ha per year in order to meet all existing demands.
The main results show that with a 20% increase in the average water supply of established adult plantations, which stands at around 6,700 m3 / ha per year and would increase to 8,000 m3 / ha per year, it may be possible to increase the yearly production by up to 15%.
It is worth noting that a greater supply of water doesn't necessarily entail a greater yield, and the water productivity will be affected; however, allocations of around 5,000 m3 / ha per year during the productive year will induce water stress that is detectable at leaf level, leading to a significant reduction of the production (of up to 30%), especially of the greater calibers (12, 14, 16). Nevertheless, in this case, water productivity increased and the yields obtained amounted to around 95 kilos per tree. Although this figure is far from ideal, it is still economically profitable for the sector.
It should also be mentioned that, in a transitional year (between one with an abundant harvest and another with a lower production), a similar production was obtained with all water allocations, which suggests that it is possible to save water in non-productive years.