APPLIED RESEARCH

Agroserveis.cat is a company born in the Ebro Delta with 15 years of experience in the rice sector with a clear vocation in the rural world, characterized by the quality and diversification of services. The concern to generate knowledge, learn and value agriculture has led us to improve products and production techniques that benefit the sector. In 2014 it was accredited as a company to carry out tests officially recognized by the public administration (EOR 83/14).
Agroserveis.cat has been able to consolidate an R&D strategy thanks to the technical team to lead and execute all the tests in a very satisfactory way for our customers. The growing trend of recent years in the testing section, has positioned the technical R & D department at the core of the future strategy.
Agroserveis.cat has a portfolio of clients representing the agricultural sector and maintains close collaboration with companies, research centers, universities, agricultural schools, cooperatives and public administration. Participation in R&D projects has positioned us as a company specialized and highly technical in the cultivation of rice in the Ebro Delta. The agronomic advice of farms in conventional cultivation and ecological cultivation of rice reinforces our added value as a company capable of leading research projects. In addition to actively participating in the transfer of knowledge acquired from dissemination days and participation in technical conferences.

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ORGANIC DELTA RICE

The Ebro Delta has an area of 320 km2 and is one of the wetlands with the greatest diversity of flora and fauna in the whole Iberian Peninsula where at the same time there are activities (agriculture, tourism, sports, etc.) in an intensive way that they create pressure on the territory and the living beings that inhabit it. Agriculture is an activity that has been practiced since the 14th century. As the deltaic surface increased, so did agricultural activity, thanks to the sediments provided by the river Ebro, rich in fine particles (clays and silts) and organic matter, provided the ideal characteristics for the agricultural activity (rice, vegetables, fruit trees, olive trees, etc.).

The creation of reservoirs at the time of the 60's caused a decrease in the flow of the river Ebro and the contribution of sediments that facilitated the expansion of the deltaic surface within the sea. It was from this moment, that the Ebro Delta stopped growing and the processes of regression and subsidence of the deltaic platform began. This fact also led to an increase in the level of the water table of the sea and the salinization of the land that has conditioned a transformation of crops grown in deltaic territory. The crop that best tolerates current salinity conditions is rice, which has remained as the main crop with an area of 20,400 ha, citrus with 144 ha and to a lesser extent vegetables, olives and fodder.

The intensification of rice cultivation, accompanied by the philosophy of maximizing production and yields, has led in the last 40 years to a massive use of phytosanitary products of chemical origin with the consequences that this entails: reduction of biodiversity, pollution of surface water, aquifers and the sea, pollution of terroirs and direct and indirect harmful effects on the health of plants, animals, humans and the environment. That is why the need arises to create a sustainable agricultural model with the territory and the environment, which at the same time satisfies the needs of the market and the population.

Crop plant health is becoming increasingly difficult to manage, due to a number of factors such as climate change, crop intensification, monocultures and the need to increase production with fewer resources. This problem has been affecting the farmer for years not only locally, but globally. We need to make a total change in the production model in order to meet market demands in a sustainable way while conserving resources and the environment, so that future generations can continue to do so.

The European Community's agricultural policies are geared towards a model of sustainable, ecological and environmentally friendly production. The new Community Agricultural Policy (CAP) of 2020 has as basic pillars the characters previously amended, which is why we need to transform our agricultural production models to future legislation that is already under way. It is necessary to create R&D projects that develop new production models, to avoid that in 2-3 years we will not find ourselves in an obsolete and outdated model with the legislation, with the economic, social and environmental consequences that this would behave.

The most important fact is that farms with extensive crops such as rice are not profitable in the current production model, the farmer practices agricultural activity thanks to CAP aid, but not from the benefits he obtains from his cultivation. , which is how it should be. Production costs are very high, coupled with the low profit margin of the final product make the farmer choose to lease or sell the land directly. Part of this problem is in the intermediaries who take too high a percentage of the final product, in addition to the economic pressure exerted by multinationals on the purchase price of cooperatives and farmers. All this is leading to the growing size of farms and the small and medium farmer who once lived on their land, can now not afford production costs. If we continue like this, the size of the farms will not stop growing and in the end there will only be 4 big farmers left, who will be more “entrepreneurs” than “farmers”. This fact is pushing most young people to leave the territory for lack of resources and the depopulation of rural areas, in the consequences that this will have in the not too distant future. The loss of knowledge and traditions is also a loss of values and culture, which the next generations will have lost the techniques and knowledge necessary to be able to live in harmony with the environment.



Areas

The main areas of ODR are:

  • Promotion of organic rice production in the Ebro Delta

  • Identification of problems in organic rice production

  • Provide tools and techniques for organic rice production

  • Reduction in the use of pesticides and mineral fertilizers

  • Improving the value of organic rice in the industry

  • Increasing landscape biodiversity and crop rotation (Greening)

  • Develop a sustainable production system that facilitates the viability of small producers

  • To favor the establishment of the useful fauna to the culture of the rice

  • Dissemination and transfer of knowledge generated

  • Open a line of research in organic production



Methodology

A sector of the Delta with good conditions has been selected for the study of the different objective research lines of the project (Finca La Palma). It is a property located in the municipality of Deltebre that borders the left bank of the river Ebro.

The testing strategy is a great challenge due to the complexity of the objectives and the execution time. There are many factors that interact in the plant physiology and plant health of rice plants. That is why, at the beginning of the Project, the project has been segmented into work packages to converge at the end with an integration of organic rice production.

The experimental design of the first year is segmented into three blocks of work, where the biological control of fertilization, weeds and pests and diseases will be directed through techniques and products that allow it. This first year we do not want to study the interaction of factors and that is why it will only direct the ecological management of each "target" of each block, so that in the block of weed control only its control will be ecological, the fertilization and disease control will be performed in a conventional manner. Similarly in the two remaining study blocks (fertilization and pests and diseases).

The approach for the second year is to collect the best results of the first year of each block and propose various control strategies where different block factors interact, where organic fertilization will be combined with planting techniques for weed control or fertilization with the block of pests and diseases. At the same time, work will continue to improve the results of each block separately, to provide more alternatives that help diversify techniques and products for organic rice production.

The third year should serve to integrate the different interactions between factors of the second year in integrated strategies 100% ecological, and it is called strategies because it is not understood that organic production will go through a single strategy, but quite the opposite, will have to combine different strategies and products within the same year depending on the conditions of each field, as well as the agronomic management of the farms will have to be diversified year by year. This last year we want to try several "demos" to diversify agronomic tools in organic rice production.

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