Organic Rainfed Almond Orchard
This project arose from the will-change of two separate entities!
Agro Water Almonds (AWA) is an almond producer based in Lérida, Spain. AWA owns and manages around 1000 hectares of planted almond orchards in Spain and has expanded its activity in 2021 to the municipality of Idanha-a-Nova, Portugal. One of the company's goals is to use new technologies that promote sustainable and efficient use of resources, namely water and energy.
The recently created AWAPT BIO company aims to install a 15 ha Organic Rainfed Almond Orchard in Ladoeiro, Idanha-a-Nova, Portugal, with the goals:
producing organic nutrient-dense almonds and
creating a demonstration/pilot site of regenerative agriculture practices.
to be replicated on other plots, improving sustainability
to take greater economic and environmental valorization of this product
assessment of the impact of practices on soil function and almond production
case studies, webinars, field days, events
Food4Sustainability CoLAB (F4S) has the know-how and key technologies to support the design and development of this initiative through its technical and scientific team and its extensive partner network.
F4S aims at
1) developing R&D studies focusing on sustainable intensification of food production and
2) disseminating the results, using the plot as a demonstration site of organic rainfed almond production.
In 2022, F4S and AWAPT BIO established an action plan for a medium to long-term collaboration that synergistically combines the objectives of both entities.
The action plan encompasses 3 main phases:
R&D studies, planning and implementing an organic rainfed almond orchard
Demonstrator set up and replication of sustainable practices on the farm
Monitoring and technical support
1) R&D studies, planning and implementating an organic rainfed almond orchard
In phase 1, the impact of specific practices and interventions on soil health and function will be evaluated, as well as the almond tree adaptation to organic production in rainfed conditions.
The main activities of phase 1 include:
Almond tree establishment in North-South orientation and keyline design.
Creation of a natural barrier between the organic and conventional production plots.
Set up almond trees under organic production.
Testing regenerative practices and assessing soil health and function improvement.
✔ The keyline system is a method whose primary objective is to increase water retention and infiltration while also improving soil structure and fertility by preventing run-off and erosion.
✔ Keylines maximize water use in planting areas by capturing, infiltrating and distributing water, spreading it more uniformly across the broadest desirable area.
✔ In addition, keylines also reduce the velocity of surface water run-off, slowing down water erosion processes.
✔ Ground cover aims to increase and preserve the organic matter and biological activity of the soil to increase its fertility and thus reduce the application of fertilizers (especially nitrogen).
✔ It will also increase water retention capacity, reducing erosion.
2) Demonstrator set up and replication of sustainable practices on the farm.
In phase 2, the most suitable practices will be consolidated to maximize the soil function as a basis for the adequate development of the orchard to achieve full production. The pilot site will be classified as a demonstrator for intensive rainfed almond under organic production, and the regenerative practices will be expanded or replicated to other sectors of the almond farm.
3) Monitoring and continued technical support;
Phase 3 aims at the continued monitoring of the plot regarding soil function, the performance of the orchard, natural barrier and ground cover, and ecosystem services (biodiversity, carbon sequestration, efficient water use).
Examples of parameters monitored during the project:
install humidity sensors
install soil collectors
Soil fertility and health will be monitored through physical-chemical (e.g. pH, electrical conductivity, organic matter, etc.) and biological (microbiome, mesofauna) analysis to determine necessary adjustments and select the best practices.