Frutinter: Clementines with zero nitrate footprint

Javier Usó

The company from Castellón is the first in the world to market clementines certified with zero nitrate footprint

Sustainability from all angles has always been a concern for the company from Vila-Real. Accordingly, a few years ago, Frutinter started to show its interest in an aspect that was not generating much attention: Smart Farming and the Nitrate Footprint.

Today, after different experimentation phases, Frutinter is the first company in the world to market clementines certified as zero nitrate from one of the farms belonging to its associates.

“We noticed the problems caused by an excess of fertilisers and how these affected the aquatic environment pollution for the first time around four years ago. Since then, we have been considering how we could reverse the situation,” the General Manager, Javier Usó, explains.

Using the Frutinter UPV Chair (Universidad Politécnica de Valencia) and with the help of Professor Pedro Beltrán, a series of studies and experiments were started up which, finally, ended last September with the ‘Zero Nitrate Certificate’ being issued by the company Food Rina Iberia.

Professor Beltrán explains how the size of the fruit is closely linked to the amounts of nitrate and potassium absorbed by the tree. “We are working with a methodology that has been patented by the University of Barcelona, with which a series of parameters are analysed (microclimate, humidity, potassium nitrate, etc.) to ensure that the tree maintains the correct balance. Using specific software, we carried out an analysis of the sap to find out what was happening to the plant,” concludes the professor.

The results were so satisfactory that reducing fertilising by 58% and with a slight increase in potassium, Frutinter has managed, in just two harvests, many advances such as the improvement in size and a productivity that reaches an extra 8,000 kilos of clementines per hectare.

The technology applied, supported by remote spatial tele-detection sensors, consisted of introducing probes at a depth of 3 or 4 metres to ensure that the contamination did not reach the subsoil. “The result was highly satisfactory as there was no leaching into the water.”

To verify the results correctly, the project was carried out leaving some farms as controls, which subsequently allowed comparisons to be made.

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