“If it wasn’t for improved water administration, this area would have been a desert,” says Spanish farmer Salvador Garre Garcia from the Murcia region. While freshwater availability is a rapidly increasing global issue, farmers in Spain are already experts at adaptation.
With almost 35 years of experience in agriculture, Garcia, alongside his brothers, has brought about remarkable changes to the family farm. With enormous savings in water and nutrients while at the same time increasing quality and yields, he hails the shift as an agronomic revolution.
Investing to improve
Three brothers run the farming business, and Salvador Garre Garcia is the one responsible for soils, nutrients and more for their citrus, vegetables and fruit production.
“Water has always been a problem, already for my father. We started using subterranean water which was in short supply and of very poor quality,” says Garcia. Due to quality issues, cash crops were not an option and the farm economy suffered. Step by step investments have added dams collecting rainwater, sourcing from the nearby river and a desalination unit.
Steep learning curve
With a range of water sources adding to availability and quality, the next step was to manage the resources in a more cost effective way. An initial step was to advance from flooding to more targeted irrigation, which saved the family at least 20% of their water expenses.
The learning curve was steep, and parts of the first harvest were lost due to overly sparing irrigation.
Collaborating with Yara, the Garcia family proceeded into fertigation: applying fertilizers dissolved in water.
“We started working with liquid fertilizers in 1994. The technology made everything automatic and controllable. Yes, we were truly a part of a small agricultural revolution!” explains Garcia.
The use of technology takes the water and nutrient use efficiency to a new level. They obtain better quality and increased yields while saving both costs and the environment by using less water and nutrients per ton of crop.
“Today, the way we cultivate our huge variety of crops would have been unimaginable for my father,” says Garcia.
For future generations
The farmer’s knowledge and genuine interest help make agriculture meaningful and prosperous. Using precision technology allows Garcia to stay on top of farming trends.
“The leading trend is less environmental impact. You either take part and adapt, or soon you’re uncompetitive,” says Garcia.
Traditionally, water corresponds to 50% of the production costs. Being on top of both farming costs and the environmental trend secures stability for future generations. Year by year Garcia is fine tuning, and money spared on water is re-invested.
“I am always striving for perfection and to be at my best.”