Making the most of the slurry generated in the farms of the province to minimize the purchase of mineral fertilizer is the objective that Copiso has set itself with its Fertisos project, a sustainable organic fertilization program for rainfed and irrigated crops which has been carried out in the province of Soria since July of last year. At the same time, it is about banishing myths about a reviled sector and demonstrating that slurry can be used to fertilize the fields, as it has been done historically and now limited by environmental regulations.
The general objective of this project is to design a new sustainable organic fertilization program for rainfed and irrigated crops in the province of Soria, through the use of different types of slurry from Copiso livestock facilities, to see their behavior in the field, and with This will reduce the amount of mineral fertilizers currently used. Is about show what is the real efficiency of livestock waste for use as an agricultural fertilizer.
Thus, the Copiso technicians, under the protection of the Fertisos initiative, sowed in the autumn of last year 11 plots throughout the province, all of them close to pig integration farms of the cooperative. “In this way, it is easier to carry out fertilization tests with manure,” says Eduardo Pascual, a project technician. The selection of the plots has been made in such a way that the different types of soils existing in the province are represented. As far as farms are concerned, different types of farms were chosen (production, weaning and feedlots), in order to be able to analyze and apply the different types of slurry.
Copiso began to develop this project as a result of the environmental commitment that the company has been demonstrating over the years. He wants to show that organic fertilizer is not a problem, but rather an opportunity for the Soriano field, since it not only provides nutrients but also organic matter, which is found at very low levels in the soils of the province. In addition, “the slurry has most of its nitrogen in organic form, making a progressive transition to nitrate, so that the risk of leaching is much lower than with other types of mineral fertilizers,” says this agronomist.
In addition, the correct use of them means a reduction in the fertilization costs of the different crops, as well as an improvement in their carbon footprint since they are produced on farms in the province, so that transport costs are also reduced. to the max. “What better than taking advantage of what we have at home and not having to bring it from abroad,” adds Eduardo Pascual. With this, Copiso would apply its principle of circular economy, by fertilizing the crops with the droppings of their cattle.
A fertilization cost that this year has been extraordinarily high, since, with mineral fertilizer, it has amounted to around 400 euros per hectare on average in dry crops, with prices for certain products that have exceeded 1,000 euros per ton. “Farmers are clear that slurry is a sustainable fertilizer and that applying it properly has many advantages,” stresses the technician.
It is about being able to fertilize the largest number of hectares with slurry and reduce the purchase of mineral fertilizer as much as possible. In this sense, it regrets the lack of knowledge that the public has about the sector.
And at the same time it seeks, “based on agronomic reasoning, to demonstrate that agriculturally, environmentally and economically it is viable to fertilize with slurry, as has always been done, with the aim of allowing us to make proper use of it” , indicates
The structure of each essay is divided into six theses, two of mineral fertilizer, a mixed thesis of organic fertilizer in the bottom and mineral fertilizer in cover, and three theses of organic fertilizer, both in bottom and in cover, at different doses per hectare.
“We apply different doses, in accordance with current regulations, but always below the permitted limit, to demonstrate the agronomic behavior of the field and adjust the amount of slurry in the most efficient way possible according to performance, with the fundamental objective of reducing maximum losses. It is also intended to demonstrate that with very low doses it is not possible to achieve sufficient fertilization of the soil that allows us to achieve minimum yields”, explains Eduardo Pascual.
At the same time, it shows that the project wants to show that slurry is not responsible for the contamination of aquifers: “We seek to shed some light and knowledge by showing contrasting data, because as producers we have to listen to everything” , the Mint.
Eduardo remembers that The Castilla y León Agrarian Technological Institute (Itacyl) collaborates in the project providing technical support and giving veracity as an institution to the results obtained.
The first results will be obtained at the end of this campaign, in which both quantity and quality of the shaded crop will be determined. However, this year, due to the current situation of the crops, so affected by the drought, it will not be the best for establishing comparisons.
The initiative has an execution period of 42 months, from July 1, 2022 to December 31, 2025, and has a total budget of 427,037.52 euros, but Copiso has received a grant of 106,759.38 euros from the Institute for Business Competitiveness of Castilla y León, which tries to promote technological development, innovation and quality research.
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