“Hydroponic expanding at a height has offered us a competitive edge in phrases of labor recruitment”

The cultivation of berries in Huelva is a present-day success story. The output of Huelva’s strawberries, which started developing as a revolutionary undertaking between the late 50’s and early 60’s of the 20th century, has allowed Spain to become the most significant producer of this fruit in the European Union, despite the fact that the accurate magnitude of this sector in Huelva is apparent when searching at the figures it yields. It accounts for almost 97% of Spain’s overall harvest, and for about 23.8% of the output of this fruit in the EU-27 in the 2020/21 marketing campaign, according to Eurostat information, inserting it nicely ahead of the upcoming major EU producers: Poland and Germany, with shares of 16.3% and 13.8%, respectively.

And blueberries, which were being released even additional lately in Huelva, have followed in the techniques of strawberries in their somewhat handful of a long time of heritage. In 2020, Huelva’s blueberries, which accounted for 93.9% of the Spanish generation, turned Spain into the fruit’s major producer in the EU-27, with the province accounting for a share of shut to 33.4% much ahead of the following biggest EU producers: Poland and Portugal.

Blueberries have expanded speedily in recent yrs in Huelva. In the very last 5 campaigns alone, the acreage has amplified by far more than 130%. The two the developing demand and the new cultivation methods, these as hydroponics, have contributed to their adoption by consolidated businesses, this kind of as Perla Huelva, which has been increasing strawberries for additional than 20 yrs.

“For now, we only have 2 hectares in generation, but we hope to develop to 7 hectares in the next 2 decades. From the incredibly commence, we have been developing with hydroponic cultivation in 30 liter bags of coconut fiber substrate with a planting density of 9,200 vegetation per hectare. Hydroponic cultivation allows the tree to get started generating previously and, by acquiring additional plants per unit region, yields per hectare are also increased,” says Juan Ramón Hernández, basic manager of the enterprise centered in Rociana del Condado.

Juan Ramón Hernández at the blueberry plantation of Perla Huelva.

“Cultivation in coconut substrate, which is supplied to us by the Dutch company Dutch Plantin, had already been tested with strawberries and raspberries, and the distinction when compared to cultivation in soil is really sizeable. Berries are really delicate to soil moisture and the substrate enables us to handle this variable perfectly. With the assistance of technological know-how, like different types of sensors, or microtensiometers, the suitable humidity values can be managed at all moments, so that irrigation is only utilized when the plant actually desires it,” states Juan Ramón.

“Not only does it conserve drinking water, but only the suitable sum is utilized. Hydroponic cultivation makes it possible for us to use this minimal useful resource as efficiently as possible,” he suggests. “And the following move will be the recirculation of drainage water. In soil cultivation, the drinking water that drains away ends up in aquifers, but in the really small term, we will have the engineering letting us to reuse the drainage water from hydroponic crops as numerous situations as achievable. Sustainability is necessary, and right now there is no future not only for non-sustainable agriculture, but also for non-sustainable societies as a whole.”

“The exact goes for fertilization, which is accomplished on need and lets the procedure to be optimized. It also facilitates crop administration and lets things that are unthinkable in soil output. For example, raspberry vegetation can be moved and placed in chilly storage, which in flip tends to make it feasible to advance the creation, and in the case of blueberries, vegetation can be generated in significant density and, as the trees improve, they can be redistributed, advancing the creation in a scaled-down region,” claims the berry field experienced.

“A different edge of hydroponic developing is that it would make the career of pickers less difficult by enabling them to be in a additional ergonomic place when harvesting, and this would make it a lot easier to attract labor for picking. In reality, possessing our strawberries developed hydroponically at some peak has given us a competitive gain in employing labor over other colleagues who mature them in the floor,” says Juan Ramón.

Is hydroponics the long term of blueberry output in Huelva?
The rewards of hydroponics in the cultivation of berries are not only explicable, but noticeable in the agricultural landscape of the province. When traveling the streets of some counties, you see extra and additional blueberry crops in pots, strawberries in sacks or raspberries in trays.

“The advancement of hydroponics is exponential and the hole amongst it and common cultivation is being bridged by leaps and bounds,” suggests Juan Ramon. “I would not say that hydroponics will completely displace soil cultivation in the upcoming, because in Huelva we have really very good sandy soils that generate really similar benefits to hydroponics, but I believe that that the most reducing-edge leading organizations will expand a great deal of their generation on hydroponic cultivation. Agriculture is moving in direction of technologization and digitalization and, just as it transpired when tractors arrived 60-70 years in the past, individuals who fall short to adapt will be still left at the rear of. This is what is taking place now with the use of know-how in agriculture, productive irrigation, the optimization of h2o and nutrition or new cultivation tactics,” he claims.

Notwithstanding their manufacturing method, blueberries, as nicely as other berries from Huelva, will carry on to be foods with a high useful worth. As Juan Ramón recalls, strawberries include extra vitamin C than oranges, and blueberries are a great supply of antioxidants and are also wholesome snacks, incredibly simple to transportation and eat whenever and everywhere. These elements explain the improve in their desire and, in the scenario of blueberries, the considerable advancement in their for every capita usage in modern a long time, which is anticipated to go on in all EU international locations. “Most of our manufacturing is supposed for export to Europe, even though we are more and more doing the job more with the domestic industry. Tiny by small, we are also looking at usage increase in Spain,” suggests Juan Ramón.

perlalogoFor much more info:
Juan Ramón Hernández Pérez
Common Director
Perlahuelva Fruits Export S.L.
Calle Zalema, 14
21720 Rociana del Condado, Huelva, Spain
Tel.: +34 610 728 319

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