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Controlled deficit irrigation for tomatoes


A three year study has been carried out at the University of Seville to reduce the amount of water in cherry tomato crops by more than 50 per cent. The crops maintained their quality (commercial, nutritional and functional) but there was even an increase in the content of carotenoids – a very interesting compound.

The study focussed on two varieties of cherry tomatoes as well as nine other types – in both autumn and spring cycles – reducing irrigation as much as possible during the crops’ most resistant stage and then increasing the water supply as the plants become more sensitive to stress. Mireia Corell, professor of Agroforestry Sciences in Seville, said: “It’s not about using half the amount of water just like that! You need to carry out a study on the plant’s hydric condition and, when well aware of its needs, you irrigate the crop in an appropriate way at the optimum moment. Growers will benefit from this methodology which is breaking new ground in the field of hydro-sustainable products with a reduced consumption of both water and energy. It will also bring added value to the consumer with more environmentally sustainable produce which has better nutritional qualities.”