A study by the Polytechnic University of Cartagena (UPCT), carried out in partnership with the Central Irrigation Union of the Tajo-Segura Aqueduct (SCRATS), on sustainable fertigation in melon crops has shown that this system makes it possible to reduce the amount of irrigation water needed for the production by almost a third without any impact on the quality of the fruit. It also makes it possible to significantly reduce the salinity of the monitored soil profile, according to sources from SCRATS in a statement.
A multidisciplinary professional team is working on this project, led by Alejandro Pérez Pastor, professor at the UPCT in the Plant Production area, together with specialists from other engineering specialties, such as industrial and computer science, and from areas such as biochemistry and biology.
"The study is based on the digitization of agriculture. We have continuously monitored the water content, salinity and temperature of the soil, controlling the doses that the crop needs at all times," says Pérez Pastor. With these techniques, a greater efficiency in the use of irrigation water has been achieved, going from 6.47 kilos of melon per m³ of water used in commercial irrigation to 9.9 kilos.
With this precision irrigation strategy, the use of water has been reduced by 29.8%, which entails the saving of about 1,000 m³ / ha of irrigation water. "It should also be noted that, from a commercial point of view, the quality of the harvest, which is one of the main aspects to consider, has not been reduced," says Pérez Pastor.
Also, the fruits obtained during this study had a higher concentration of vitamin C and a reduction in nutrients like nitrogen (43%), phosphorus (41.8%) and potassium (22%).
This study, carried out on melon crops, will be applied to others, such as lemons, Mollar pomegranates or table grapes. "This is further proof that in Spain, the Levant has become an example when it comes to sustainability, efficiency and modernization in the use of water, and it continues to work to go even further," says Jiménez.