The cooperative from Huelva is projecting new growing systems, both vertical and using hydroponics.
Along with Telefónica and Vertical Green, Onubafruit is projecting a vertical crop of highly technological strawberries that will allow the production parameters to be controlled remotely.
Carlos Esteve, the Sales Manager from the cooperative, emphasises that “on such a globalised market and with ever-increasing competition, we think that both differentiation and research are the basic foundations for development; and with this new commitment we want to discover the possibilities offered by vertical production to improve the crop in all its parameters.”
The strawberries will be cultivated without any substrate, on vertical walls located in closed containers. The variables of the production process will be collected using high-precision sensors from the Internet of Things (IoT) and all the algorithms may be analysed using a Telefónica platform.
In this experimental phase, neutral day, easy-to-handle varieties will be grown, controlling the hours of light that are applied to the plants. These are crops in controlled spaces, reducing the environmental impact and the use of water, which would mean that the same volume could be produced on 90 m² as on 10,000 m² of land.
The variety improvement programmes have always played a crucial role for the company. Currently, they have their own programmes in strawberries, bilberries with six new varieties and other developments for blackberries. “In addition to this, they are collaborating on programmes with several raspberry and strawberry breeders and we will have new commercial options in the 2021/22 – 2022/23 campaigns,” Esteve comments.
Several sustainable crop projects are included on these innovation lines: Resi You from Bayer, which allows farmers to plan their crop protection regime and forecast the plant protection residue levels and the EU Environmental Life Project.
Regarding the prospects of the season that is starting now, the executive comments that “the expectations always rise as we have some well-adapted varieties and if the weather co-operates we hope to have a good campaign. In citrus fruits, although the start has been irregular, it seems that consumption is stabilising and we also predict a good end.”
On another note, the cooperative has a surface area of 40 ecologically certified hectares, which increases every year. “Consumption of biological produce goes hand in hand with concern about the environment and at Onubafruit we are aware that consumers’ priorities have changed”.
The cooperative’s production forecasts in this campaign include the following figures for their different products: 33,000 tonnes of strawberries; 12,000 of raspberries and 200 of bilberries. In other categories they have 16,000 t of citrus fruit; 7,000 of persimmons; 1,000 of stone fruit and 200 of avocados.