By: NaanDanJain – Itamar Eshel
Our story begins in one of the most beautiful places in the world, Antigua, the backpackers‘ capital of Guatemala, on Filadelfia Farm near the city.
The farm is owned by Don Roberto Dalton, who was born over sixty years ago to one of the most important families in the city.
The farm is also a tourist resort, with a boutique hotel, nice restaurant and a coffee shop.
Many tourists come to experience nature, fly along the zip lines over the stunning valley, play paint ball or just watch the active volcano, or visit the coffee factory.
Don Roberto loves his coffee plantation more than anything else, and he is very proud of the quality of his coffee,
which is sold in luxury stores worldwide and in the duty free shop at Guatemala airport.
According to rumors, his blood is so dark it is almost the color of coffee.Don Roberto has always known that coffee quality depends on species suitable for the unique area,
but it is just as important to ensure optimal conditions for the plants.
Therefore, although it is extremely difficult to irrigate and fertilize coffee on the farm’s “crazy” topography, he decided to invest in the most advanced fertigation system.
After examining various alternatives, he chose NaanDanJain to design the system.
This is one of the most interesting and complex projects ever undertaken: It symbolizes life in Guatemala.
On the one hand, the most advanced products and technologies in the world are used, including fertilization, automation and full control.
On the other, local workers use traditional methods.
The steep slopes in the small subplots and planting along contours (and not in straight rows) led to the decision to choose the Amnon pressure compensated dripper,
which ensures that each dripper supplies exactly 2.2 liters of water per hour.
A filtration, fertilization and control center was installed near each of the three wells. Each center has five plastic containers and five fertilizer pumps, which deliver the required amount of fertilizer and water through the irrigation system to each coffee plant, depending on development stage and time of year.
The automation and remote control systems allow control of all system components and enable accurate recording of all information.
The system is subsurface and each valve on the farm is in a concrete box with a cover and lock, to prevent theft. There are more than 3,000 locks on the farm.
Notwithstanding the sophistication and automation, all the workers use shovels, simply because the area is inaccessible to mechanical equipment.
There is also no electricity, so even the irrigation manager’s computer works on solar cells.
There are also fascinating personal stories. The irrigation manager is Avisai, a local 25-year old who started out as a simple laborer.
Avisai took an interest in irrigation and fertilization. He went into the internet, learned how the system works and today he is the manager of the entire irrigation system.
When Don Roberto heard his story, he brought Avisai and his family to live on the farm.
The project has been ongoing for more than two years, and Don Roberto continues to buy land, plant coffee and install irrigation systems.
The first part was about 50 hectares, and today more than 150 hectares are irrigated, with more on the way. The irrigation system is worth more than USD 1 million.
Besides the significant improvement in coffee yield and quality, irrigation and fertilization allow planting in all seasons and save high costs of transporting water in tankers and manual irrigation.
Field days are held on the farm for agronomists, and everyone is impressed by the rapid development and quality of the young plants. This is unique in Guatemala and worldwide.
Don Roberto turned coffee production into an organized industry, which does not rely on the elements of nature, and provides quality, quantity and economic security.
This demonstrates that even in the most difficult conditions, yields can be successfully increased.
Tradition holds a place of honor as well. When another well was required in a remote area, Don Roberto recalled that his grandfather said that where there is a certain tree – there is water.
On one of his many trips to the area, he saw those trees. Without performing a hydrological survey, a well was dug, and lo and behold, an abundance of water was found.