Pozo Sur has cancelled its ecological line and continues its commitment to maximising efficiency at all levels in conventional crops
“Ecological watermelon crops are no more sustainable than conventional ones.” This is the categorical affirmation made by Juan López, Manager of Pozo Sur. His company advances to Fruit Today that they have “abandoned” the line, with which they produced 650,000 kg every year on 30 ha, when taking stock of the two years using this system and realising that “regarding water and carbon footprint sustainability, it was true madness.” And he gives figures: “to produce a kilo of ecological watermelons, over 100 litres of water are needed, compared to 40 litres for conventionally-grown fruit.”
The carbon footprint “is moving in the same direction, because the CO2 emissions for the tractor work are 8 kg/m2 as opposed to 3 kg m2, and the padded plastics are used in both cases, but they give less yield in eco crops.” Although bio crops do show substantially better results on the subject of fertilisers.
The company from Murcia, one of the largest European watermelon producers, is putting 100% of its spotlight on a meticulous sustainability programme applied to conventional crops, leaving bio for pumpkins, where it considers there is a difference with regard to sustainability. And the fact is that, as the Manager affirms, “There is no watermelon crop system that is more sustainable than our intensive farming methods.” Thanks to their extensive experience and constant improvements, they have fine-tuned aspects such as the changing of crop areas to different altitudes to obtain better yields and quality at each exact moment, with a lower carbon footprint (applying soil regeneration and recovery techniques, integrated production systems and other steps), as well as a smaller hydric footprint (in 5 years they have gone from using 67 litres to 40 to produce a kilo of watermelons.) All of this is in line with the sustainable trends that society is demanding, but that are also more profitable. “We have decided to concentrate on being competitive to give a good product at the right price,” Juan López concludes.
Balance in the crops
This year, Pozo Sur has redefined its production programme, in accordance with its weighted averages over the past 5 years, and it has opted to redistribute the surface area, maintaining the overall figures of around 700 ha. “We are extending at the ends of the campaign (early under glass in Murcia and late in La Mancha), dates when we had less produce; we are dropping in outdoor production in Murcia and we are maintaining surface area in the medium cycle.” In total, they forecast marketing around 65 million kg (50 of their own production and between 10 and 15 from external farmers), all of which is national production, in an arc that goes from week 16 to 39.