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Salinity solution saves mango crops in Brazil

  • Brazil

  • Mango

  • Salinity Soil

  • Saline water

  • Water savings

The São Francisco Valley is one of Brazil’s “fruit baskets”, producing most of the country’s grape and mango exports.

It historically attracted settlers from all over the world to grow on its land, and for good reason: 300 days of sun a year here allow several harvests per year, making this semi-arid area something of an oasis.

However, as is common in many areas in Brazil (and, indeed, across the world), the land is blighted by soil salinization, affecting everyone from small farmers to huge industry players.

One such grower is Armando Malul, who moved here years ago and grows a variety of fruits.

He described to us the hopeless situation he had found himself in after many attempts to grow crops on this salt-saturated soil: “The area was very dry, almost unusable. I planted guava, that died, I planted cherries, that failed too”.

Thankfully, Armando took inspiration from his experience in similar semi-arid regions in his native Israel: “I had heard about this technology when back in Israel, and had followed some tests with great interest. Suddenly I realized here: this could be the solution for my land.”

Like many other growers, this gut instinct turned into the decision that would ultimately save his crops – and his land in the process.

Armando decided to follow his instinct and treat his mango plot (~12 Ha) with Aqua-4D. There was no change in irrigation management, with daily irrigation taking place.

Progress

Aqua-4D’s George Melo provided agronomical support to the project, and revisited again after 6 months to check on progress. He notes that: “after 6 months of irrigation with Aqua-4D all salts were solubilized, leaving no crystallization on the surface of the soil. Consequently, the development and growth of the plants has been remarkable.”

What was going on here? 

As was the case elsewhere, such as in Argentina earlier this year, the Aqua-4D system was leaching away the salts out of harm’s way, below the root zone. This meant the salts no longer posed a threat to the plants, and they could flourish. The same effect meant that irrigation with the same brackish, high-EC water was still possible. (See here for more info on the system’s leaching effect).

Armando was understandably delighted at the progress: “You can see the plants are full of life, and are beautiful. Not to mention also that Aqua-4D also helps in other matters. There’s also been water savings, less clogging, more energy for the plant.”

In fact, Aqua-4D is truly a one-stop irrigation solution for simultaneously treating a whole variety of common problems. The same effect that leaches the salts away also keeps water flowing through pipes and drippers, and ensures the plant gets more of what it needs and less of what it doesn’t.

Harvest

It was the recent harvest period which showed the clearest transformations in the farm’s fortunes, and the most important from the grower’s perspective: “Well, ultimately we are planting in order to produce and make money, of course,” jokes Malul.

With harvesting still ongoing at the time of writing, it is estimated that this year’s yield will be 12% up on the previous year’s.

Ultimately, this was all the proof the grower needed to plan an expansion of his Aqua-4D installation for his next harvest: “I believed in this tech, and here’s the proof,” says Malul with a smile.

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  • Brazil

  • Salinity Soil

  • Saline water

  • Water savings

The São Francisco valley is a hugely important region for Brazilian horticulture, producing most of the country’s grape and mango exports. It historically attracted settlers from all over the world to grow on its land, and for good reason: 300 days of sun a year here allow several harvests per year, making this semi-arid area something of an oasis.

However, as is common in many areas in Brazil (and, indeed, across the world), the land is blighted by soil salinization, affecting everyone from small farmers to huge industry players. One such grower is Armando Malul, who grows mangoes on around 52 hectares of land.

Malul describes the hopeless situation he had found himself in after many attempts to grow crops on this salt-saturated soil: “The area was very dry, almost unusable. I planted guava, that died, I planted cherries, that failed too” (full video interview to the right and here).

Thankfully, Malul took inspiration from his experience in similar semi-arid regions in his native Israel: “I had heard about this technology when back in Israel, and had followed some tests with great interest. Suddenly I realized here: this could be the solution for my land.”

Like many other growers, this gut instinct turned into the decision that would ultimately save his crops – and his land in the process.

Malul decided to treat all 4 of his plots (~12 Ha each) with Aqua-4D, with 8 treatment units in total. There was no change in irrigation management, with daily irrigation taking place. To track the progress, soil conductivity was measured.

The irrigation water came from a source with very high salt content, with initial tests showing electroconductivity (EC) of up to 4.33 ms/cm. There was also an overriding presence of calcium – between 360-1,100 ppm – which would explain the low flowering rate, as this calcium was reducing the availability of the required potassium.

Progress

The transformation of the mango crops is clear both in the results and the field photographs taken at various intervals.

Firstly, the hard stats… As the graph shows, there was a steady fall in electroconductivity between February and April (the slight rise in April is down to extra fertilizer during maturation):

Aqua-4D’s George Melo provided agronomical support to the project, and noted that “after 6 months of irrigation with Aqua-4D all salts were solubilized, leaving no crystallization on the surface of the soil. Consequently, the development and growth of the plants has been remarkable.”

The impact of this was even more noticable with the naked eye from the photos below:

Armando Malul was understandably delighted at the progress: “You can see the plants are full of life, and are beautiful. Not to mention also that Aqua-4D also helps in other matters. There’s also been water savings, less clogging, more energy for the plant.”

In fact, Aqua-4D is truly a one-stop irrigation solution for simultaneously treating a whole variety of common problems. The same effect that leaches the salts away also keeps water flowing through pipes and drippers, and ensures the plant gets more of what it needs and less of what it doesn’t.

Harvest

It was the recent harvest period which showed the clearest transformations in the farm’s fortunes, and the most important from the grower’s perspective: “Well, ultimately we are planting in order to produce and make money, of course,” jokes Malul.

42 truck-loads collected a total of 381,024 kg, averaging 30,240 kg per hectare – significantly above the normal yields for this area which averaged 28,000 / Ha at the very most.

With harvesting still ongoing at the time of writing, it is estimated that this year’s yield will be 12% up on the previous year’s. Ultimately, this was all the proof the grower needed to plan an expansion of his Aqua-4D installation for his next harvest: “I believed in this tech, and here’s the proof,” says Malul with a smile.

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Our team of agronomists and experts will share key facts, case studies and more… get connected!