The irrigation systems in the province have sounded the alarm. Without rain and with the Viñuela reservoir at only 15% of its capacity, the group ensures that entire mango and avocado plantations begin to dry out.
Alejandro Clavero, president of one of the irrigation communities, explains to SER that they do not remember a similar situation. According to Clavero, the extension of the drought decree approved in June 2021 by the Junta de Andalucía is “inadequate”. The decree establishes new resources and contingency work to strengthen these operating systems.
La Viñuela in worst situation
The reservoirs of the province of Malaga currently have 51% of their storage capacity and La Viñuela, the one with the largest capacity in the whole province and very important for the region of Axarquía, is in the worst situation that the Junta has given. The government of Andalusia was forced to activate the drought decree in this region of Malaga.
The junta has already activated a water saving plan to achieve a 20% reduction in urban supply. For residents, the water is limited to 200 liters per. The supply of regulated water for irrigation has been reduced to 1,500 cubic meters per hectare per year, compared to 2,000 m3 for farmers.
This sucks 2m3 of water from the Guadalhorce-Limonero exploitation system, and water from the Chillar wells has been incorporated into the Viñuela-Axarquía system for human supply.
The Andalusian government is “determined to complete most works as soon as possible” or even actually activate works that were planned years ago.
Underground irrigation system
A Torrox company may have the answer. DiarioSUR writes that they have developed an underground irrigation system that saves up to 70% water. Already installed on 70 farms in Spain and several other countries, the ‘DeepDrop’ device also improves the production of trees by reducing their water stress.
The developer is 82-year-old Antonio Rico from Torrox. In the last three decades, he has already patented 25 inventions. All inventions related to the construction sector, but also to agriculture and combating forest fires.
Since 2017, Rico and his company have already successfully developed an underground drip irrigation system that saves up to 70% water in agricultural plantations. With the water situation so critical in his own area, the company run by his son receives new orders on DeepDrop every day.
According to his son Ernesto, the results obtained so far are “very satisfactory”. With their system, they have succeeded in reducing the water footprint of avocado plantations from 800 to 1,200 liters of water per kilo of fruit to between 250 and 350 liters.
With the system, the water goes “in a fully automatic way” directly to the root of the plant. The advantages of the invention are not only limited to the reduction of water consumption. By avoiding situations of water stress in the plants, greater production in the plantations has also been demonstrated.
The company is growing rapidly and installing the system on farms in Spain, Chile, Paraguay, Mexico, Israel, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The founders are also negotiating to introduce the irrigation system on the French market.
Rico states that he has also worked for three years with the Institute for Subtropical and Mediterranean Horticulture La Mayora in nearby Algarrobo, which belongs to the Higher Council for Scientific Research CSIC.
Great strides in saving irrigation water
“We are convinced that ‘DeepDrop’ represents a major step forward in saving irrigation water in a context of drought and scarcity of water resources, which we are increasingly facing. We have a clear example in Axarquia, where La The Viñuela reservoir is in a critical situation with really alarming levels, ”emphasizes Rico and points out that the system could also be used on other crops.