Two new types of growing media are developed with residues

Neiker-Tecnalia have developed two new types of tecnosoils to be used as cultivation substrates in greenhouses.

Instituto Vasco de Investigación y Desarrollo Agrario has used sludges resulting from waste-water treatment, biomass combustion ashes, metallurgy and syderurgy residues and barley straw to elaborate tecnosoils, artificial soils.

New substrates demonstrated good properties for growing crops, as nutrient levels (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium), adequate acidity and organic material stability when mixed.

Peat substitute need

Horticultural and forestry production systems, plants production in containers has suffered a great development in the last few years due to its advantages regarding direct seeding or plant production in the field.

Total cropping media used in UE is about 20 and 30 million per year, being peat 85-90% of the market need. As peat is an organic material valued and non returnable, we are interested in searching residual product mixes, coming from urban or industrial processes, which can substitute peat and at the same time, contribute to a more efficient residue use.

Substrate compounds

Neiker-Tecnalia researches, together with the University of Santiago de Compostela, have developed two new types of tecnosoils to be used as cultivation substrates in greenhouses.

Both are made with EDAR sludges, green sand from foundry ( sand used for the metal foundry industry to create moulds where molten metal is poured)Linz-Donawitz slag ( slag coming from steel refining), barley straw and biomass combustion ashes.

The difference is in the sludge used: anaerobic, aerobic and aerobic lime treated and in the proportions of the organic and inorganic material used on the mixes: 5% of foundry sand,10% of steel slag, 2% of barley straw, 23 or 33% combustion ashes and 60-50% sewage sludge.


Results show tecnosoil made from aerobic sludges have more primary nutrient quantity, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, as well as organic carbon, while if they mix with lime there is less phosphorus.

Both tecnosoils have appropriate acidity properties which is interesting for the immobilization of heavy metalsand crop development. Furthermore both promote organic material stabilization, which improve substrate durability.

Regarding plant return, results show highest outputs are obtained in tecnosoils coming from without lime treatment aerobic sludge mixes. This is consistent with the nutrient availability in the mixes.

A way to scientific research

The research was made by the doctor in agriculture Fenxia Yao, with studies in Universidad de Agricultura de Shenyang (China). Fenxia Yao is the first person presenting a doctoral thesis in Spain related to tecnosoils. This thesis has been managed byDr. Marta Camps and Dr. Felipe Macías, and has been defended in Universidad Santiago de Compostela on January the 31. It opens an important way to study tecnooils and their application.

Tecnosoils supposed an important contribution to the environment. Furthermore they can be used as crop substrate, to recover areas degraded by mineral mining activities, public works… At the same time, they are used to reutilize materials, both organic and mineral, that would otherwise be thrown to a landfill.

New active packaging for food

Tecnalia scientifics will develop a new active protection system for processed cheese and pastry products.

It will be realized by searching and selecting the natural antifungal compounds and later studying their application in the above mentioned a food.

In this project the antifungal addition will be studied in three different ways: including the plastic material of the packaging when is manufactured, through covering the packed material and through edible covering on the food.

Active packaging benefits

Both active packaging and edible covering apply on product surface allow some additives beneficial for food to migrate controlled in time.

Furthermore, according to the material used in manufacturing, they make possible to regulate the gas transfer to the product like oxygen, and allow the humidity control also. All these facts can contribute to a better conservation for the selected food due to decreasing of the fungal growth.

In this way these products shelf life and quality will be prolonged so new business ways with high technology content, high added value and innovation promotion in the food sector will start.

Together with Tecnalia in this project takes part Intituto Tecnológico del Plástico (AIMPLAS) and the Centro Nacional de Tecnología y Seguridad Alimentaria.

New treatment to combat melon allergy

This new instrument for treatment has been obtained from profiling, protein main responsible of melon allergy.

Researchers from Centro de Biotecnología y Genómica de Plantas from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM-INIA), working with different hospitals, have developed a new treatment for melon allergyconsisting in a mutant able to stimulate the immune system to progress toward a non-allergic answer.

To stimulate the system and make it progress without melon allergies the solution is proliferation of T lymphocytes.

The importance of the discovery

Last few years allergies have increased considerably. Particularly, melon allergy is, es “the second vegetable food allergy most important in adults” according to this woking authors.

Developed mutant could eliminate immunotherapy side effects, treatment that “can carry side effects in any cases, even getting anaphylactic shock”, this is why this discovery I so important.

Due to this, developed instrument is considerate as “hopeful”. In their opinion “adverse reaction danger is avoid” when eating melon.

In addition, scientifics secure the mutant “also could be used in the pollen allergy treatment”.

Source: Universidad Politécnica de Madrid.


Technology solutions to fertilize without contaminating

Technology solutions to reduce nitrogen losses due to fertilizing crop soils with urea are proposed.

After some working years, the results obtained byETSI agronomist researchers from UPM (Polytechnic University of Madrid)have proved that using urease inhibitors can make decrease nitrogen loses in urea fertilized growing fields. This way, environmental and economic problems linked to the emission of gases with harmful effects on environment and health in growing fields would minimize

Urea fertilizing is a common practice. Around a half of the world crops are fertilized with urea. Despite the increasing of production due to its use, this fertilizer application, with a high nitrogen content and low production cost, involves important economy and environment problems linked to the ammonia volatilization (NH3) and nitrogen oxide emission (N2O nd NO)

8% of the human induced climate change is due to N2O emission

In Europe of 27, more than 70% of the NH3 emissions come from the farming sector. According to the last UE report about this, Spain is together with Cyprus the only UE country where the NH3 emissions have increased in the last 10 years. On the other hand, 8% of the climate change originated by humans is due to the N2O emission, according to United Nations, being agriculture responsible of this in the 70% of the times. Besides, NO is an important precursor of the ground level ozone.

Community objective about transboundary pollutants (like NH3) fulfillment needs the implement of emission mitigation measures. Among them it is worth noting fertilizer incorporation, mechanically or with irrigation, and the use of ureasa activity inhibitor incorporated.

These last ones effectiveness has been proved in several studies, in real conditions made by members of the Contaminación de Agrosistemas por Prácticas Agrícolas group (COAPA) from ETSI agronomist of the UPM. In those tests NH3 volatilization losses and N2O and NO emissions were measured, through proved reliability technics, coming from urea fertilized soils and others where the ureasa activity inhibitor was incorporated.

Emissions reduced to half

Achieved results have showed that under experimental conditions from the Peninsula center, the inhibitordecreases NH3 emissions in more than 50% in dry farming. Although their effectiveness in the ammonium losses, inhibitors using can increase the fertilizer product prize if you do not have in mind the environmental costs.

In this context, studies realized by the same research group (COAPA) in the South of England have showed that urea application with irrigation after the fertilizer is so effective as the inhibitor use to reduce ammonium emissions.

Besides the effectiveness of the ureasa activity inhibitor in the decrease of the ammonium way nitrogen losses, its using can make decrease other environmental and health harmful gases emissions with agriculture origin.

Recently, inhibitor effect in the decreasing of nitrous oxide (N2O) and nitric oxide (NO) coming from urea fertilized crops has been measured in real conditions. The reduction, more than 60% of those emissions, supposes an important result in nitrogen emission mitigation in Mediterranean agrosystems.

System limits

However, , inhibitor effectiveness will be always determined by zone conditions (soil type, weather, handling…). An example of this can be observed in irrigated crops (as corn) where the excess of irrigation water made decrease the inhibitor capacity to reduce nitrogen losses in the form of N2O and NO.

This one and other studies made during last few years can be possible emissions objectives established by international authorities achievement , at the same time it secures food production for a world population always increasing. Nevertheless, involvement of all parts is necessary to achieve these objectives, both competent authorities and farmers, whose working is essential to starting up with mitigation measurements.

Source: sinc

New greenhouse photovoltaic panel

he module allows electricity generation without excessive shade for the crop.

Crops chosen for the first testing are tomato and pepper, due to both of them are world widely spread, with high light needs and they have high added value in greenhouse farming.

ULMA, one of TEKNOLUR main suppliers, and Tecnalia have built an photovoltaic facility on one of the two crystals greenhouse plants of about 400 m2. The new module allows electricity generation without excessive shade for the crop.


Taking advantage of the annual oscillation on the solar elevation through an optical system based on lenses, solar radiation derivation according to the season is achieved. Without need of any mechanic solar monitoring system, technology allows to satisfy any crop needs.

During winter (from October to February), light inside the greenhouse, key for the plant growing, hardly decreases.

During summer, on the other hand, the optical system redirects sunlight towards the photovoltaic module cell, achieving a double objective: cooling the greenhouse in very high temperature period, and increase electric production through a photovoltaic system.

Summer and winter test

It is being tested in a ULMA greenhouse located in Neiker technology center in Derio (Spain). Selected crops for the first testing are tomato and pepper. They have been chosen because are two of the most world widespread with high light needs and they have high added value in greenhouse farming.

Testing during summer, the most crop critical parameters have been measured, such as PAR and total radiation, humidity and temperature. Furthermore photovoltaic panel growing crop quantity and quality have been compared with normal crystal cover growing crop, getting very good results, and since medium November, until the end of March 2012 winter testing will be made, monitoring the same parameters and hoping to have similar results.

Regarding electricity production, first measurements point to a 15% annual improvement comparing with a standard photovoltaic system.

New photovoltaic system advantage

Therefore, the new module allows photovoltaic and growing devices to live together. It acts as a seasonal greenhouse radiation and temperature control system, in addition of being a possible support for the farmer´s economic activity, through the selling and/or self consumption of the energy obtained.

Developed technology avoids the problems connected with excessive winter shade and summer sunlight, in a simple, robust and effective way. Previously validated on field in ULMA agrícola greenhouses, the consortium pretends to have the product ready to commercialize on second semester 2012.

Sardinia has the largest photovoltaic greenhouse

The facility will generate electricity enough to cover the nneeds of 10.000 homes during a year.

Su Scioffu, greenhouse occupies more than 10 football fields in Srdinia (Italy). Now the facility is covered by photovoltaic panels and is the largest solar greenhouse in the world.

Ingeteam, a company specialized in electric engineering, has supplied 14 subtations of 1,6 megawatt each one. They have 28 “Ingecom Sun Power Max” reversing gear. These gears fulfil international regulation and adapt to all solar park power.

84.000 panels in 100.000 square meters

With a power of 20 megawatt (MW) installed, the photovoltaic greenhouse is believed to produce 26 gigawatt per year (GWh), electric energy enough to cover the annual needs of 10.000 homes according to Ingeteam.

Trina Solar Chinese manufacturer´s 84.000 polycrystalline silicon panels have been installed in an area of more than 100.000 square meters.

Greenhouse chosen panels need more surface than crystalline modules, but polycrystalline ones result more energy efficient, according to experts.

Environmental advantages

This photovoltaic facility will be dedicated to the growing cro on the one hand, and to renewable energy production on the other.

This action involves great environmental advantages, since it will allow the annual emission of more or less 25.000 tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Furthermore, being done on the facility roof where roses, fennel, lettuce, parsley, chicory and beans … are produced, they do not occupy soil.

Additionally, this photovoltaic greenhouse has set other records, apart from its length and CO2 emission decrease. It is the execution and building time, since only four months were necessary to built and connect the 134 greenhouses involved in this facility and 84.000 polycrystalline silicon panels.

Tractor security in the event of roll-over is improved

Three codes from the OECD regulation have been modified after an investigation realized to avoid tractor drivers crushing.

Tractor is the land motor vehicle with more dead people every 1000 accident. The research made by experts in the Public University of Navarra (Spain)has caused changing and improvement in the codes used by OECD regulation (Organization for the economic and cooperation development). This regulation sets these vehicles approval criteria, in order to secure enough real security level and avoid death by crushing.

The investigation, financed by the Agricultural Ministry, has been realized by the researchers of the Rural Projects and Engineering Department in the UPNA Ignacio Arana Navarro, José Ramón Alfaro López and Carmen Jarén Ceballos. In the research work they have evaluated real securities provided by the current approval criteria for tractor cabins and have proposed some changes.

In almost every country in the world there is a regulation demanding, in different ways, tractor cabin protects tractor driver´s life in the case of roll-over. To commercialize these cabins, they have been testing using a specific methodology, defined in most cases with three codes (named 4 code, 6 code and 7 code) used in all OECD countries.

Modifications to the codes

““Since forty years current codes have saved life – explains Ignacio Arana investigator- but in last year their effectiveness has been called into question. Some manufacturers set maximum mass for their tractors double than the unladen mass. That was legal, and made possible that in the roll-over moments the tractor could have an instantaneous mass double the one used when testing its structure. This supposed tractors duly approved and equipped with commercials cabins, in the moment of roll-over have caused the drivers death due to cabin collapse.”.

With the intention of solving this problem and avoiding new dead people, the Agricultural Ministry financed the research project. After evaluating real security provided in testing, research work authors realized a change proposal of the codes used until that moment.

““The used reference mass must be equal or higher than the maximum admissible mass, set by manufacturer, divided between 1,75, so at least we could secure that the roll-over protective structure will always able to support the tractor maximum admissible weight, using a safety factor like the ones normally used in building and material resistance” says Arana.

As a result in January 2012 the most important three codes in testing tractor cabins were modified. “The changes have been important and the proposal we have defended in the OECD has been admitted”. Furthermore three articles related to this have been published in international magazines.

Avoiding crushing by cabin

Most dead in tractors are caused because it rolls over and crushes onto the tractor driver. In 1954 the first safety cage for tractor roll over was manufactured in Sweden.

Later a standard test was made. The protective structure was beaten with a 2000 kilo mass fallen on the tractor structure. In all testing the objective was that after the impact the deflection of the structure was not so big as not to let the safety area occupied by the driver.

At the late sixties first static testing rules were made, the structure is not beaten by a pendulum, but by a piston.

it was found that that the structures have to absorb the main part of the roll over energy, without much deformation and leaving a safety area wide enough for the tractor driver.

““The most important fact —- explains Ignacio Arana- is not the structure resistance but the energy needed for its deformation and invasion of the safety area”. That is why structures must be resistant enough, but not too rigid, they must allow certain degree of plastic deformation.


Pest control is possible by appropriate sampling

Crop monitoring to detect pests in time, and identify them correctly is a secure way to avoid serious damage in farms.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is based onknowing and understanding well the pests that are attacking the crop, even understanding the reason of its population density in the crop. Each IPM program depends on regular monitoring in order to check population density and establishment of pests which have showed an action threshold need.

Action thresholds are population density levels or pest changes which cause measurable losses in the output quantity or quality.

Pest outbreaks normally are due to the following causes:

• Natural control riots

• Resistance to pesticides

• Invasive species

• Secundary pest problems

• Climate

• Migration

Imbalance in nature

Any pest is attacked by a group ofnatural enemies including insects, mites, virus, fungi and bacteria. The natural enemies keep most insects and mites under control to avoid economic damages.

When these natural enemies do not provide enough control or provide control only after serious crop damages, the insect or mite becomes a pest.

Another factor is the favorable climate that allows insect or mite population to increase to high densities and escape natural enemies control. Secondary pest outbreaks are caused by the destruction of natural enemies due to broad spectrum pesticides applications, allowing the increasing of the insect and mite population until devastating levels.

When an insect or mite develops resistance to pesticides designed for its control, not only they escape to the pesticide control effect, but also the natural enemies that have been eliminated because they are not resistant to the applied pesticide. Insects or mites non born in the farm area can also became pests.

Monitoring strategies

• Use yellow traps, sticky for the White Fly monitoring and control, leaf miner, aphids and pheromone traps for the chili “picudo”, tomato, intestinal worm, tomato worn and beet worn around the perimeter. Review twice a week.

• Divide the productive field in two acres nets.

• The productive field must be divided in one hectare segments to facilitate pest and disease sampling.

• Select 6-10 plants placed closely in each net twice a week.

• Observe and keep warning of flying insects in each plant.

• Examine each plant looking for worms and larvae (focusing in the damage), bedbugs, predators.

 Remain vigilant

• Improve your pet knowledge: presence and dynamics.

• Apply pesticides efficiently and only when necessary.

• Incorporate biological control to conserve natural enemies and predators.

• Improve your pesticide knowledge: selection effectiveness and timing.

Tomato sampling

• Examine all the plant and select terminal flakes from the third and seventh leaves, count whitefly nymphs in all the plant and terminal leaves, count aphids, leaf miner worm and larvae eggs in all plant or terminal leaves.

• Select a leaf from the lower part of the plant and examine looking for mites. Count tomato intestinal worm larvae.

• Count trips/10 flowers.

• Examine 10 seeds looking for worm and bedbug damage.

 Pepper sampling

• Select a vegetative bud per plant and count the beet worm larvae, yellow mites and aphids in young plants.

• Select a leave fron the middle and exmine looking for worm eggs.

• Count trips and predators Orius/10 flowers.

• Inspeccione las yemas florales y pequeños frutos por señales de alimentación por Picudo del chile.

• Examine fallen flowers buds andsheeds looking for chili “picudo” larvae.



TEKNOLUR is in charge of Tiznado River Project irrigation system

TEKNOLUR contracted by the Venezuelan company SIPSA for the fertigation system installation in the Tiznado River Farming Project.

The project is placed in the municipality Ortiz, state of Guárico (Venezuela) and guarantees the right to food in the municipality, the employment generation, and the national production strengthening.

You can know more about this project in this link.