Grupo Pistacyl, the main pistachio producer in Castile and Leon, is carrying out an innovative research project aimed at increasing the sustainability of the cultivation of this dried fruit through the use of water resources, which allows homogenizing and improving production of pistachio in Castile and Leon.
For this, the project is based on the use of modern precision agriculture technologies such as drones and sensors that, among other objectives, are allowing to know relevant factors to optimize its cultivation, such as the true water needs of the pistachio tree and its performance depending on the irrigation received.
Funded by the CDTI, the research is being carried out through Pistacyl, one of the group’s companies, and in collaboration with the Castile and Leon Agricultural Technology Institute (ITACyL).
It is being carried out in two experimental plots located in the Valladolid towns of La Seca and Moraleja de las Panaderas, on which two irrigation treatments have been established, both by aerial drip and buried, corresponding to two differentiated doses of water: high irrigation and regular watering.
Different soil moisture sensors and relative humidity and ambient temperature meters have also been installed in them, which allow a series of data to be collected on the ground that make it possible to know the effects of irrigation on tree growth and its long-term effects, and thereby increase the efficiency of irrigation in pistachio cultivation.
Thus, through periodic measurements of different parameters such as the length of the sprouts or the diameter of the tree trunk, researchers are able to evaluate the impact of different irrigation conditions on the productive characteristics of the crop.
Another of the objectives of the project is to verify the usefulness of the application of the image by drones to determine the phytosanitary status of the target plots of study and look for possible relationships with the water regime to which they are subjected in the project. With this, it is intended to advance in minimizing the diseases in the pistachio.
Among the different actions carried out in this line of work, hot air was injected into the plots in order to reduce the weight of pistachio pollen and therefore favor its dispersion.
Likewise, the research also pursues the homogenization of pistachio production and the programming of its cultivation also through the use of drone and satellite images, for which periodic flights are being carried out in the plots with a multispectral camera.
The images obtained, together with the results of the irrigation tests, are being analyzed by the researchers to obtain predictive models and develop pistachio cultivation calendars.
Started in 2020, the project is currently in its final phase with the study of the effect of irrigation on growth and harvest, the analysis of samples in the laboratory, the carrying out of flights with drones to take images and the feasibility study of the use of these images for irrigation programming.