GUDAR-JAVALAMBRE: TRUFFLE-GROWING WITH AGTECH
Writer: José Vicente Navarro D. – Representative for the Central-Eastern Region and Egypt – NaanDan Jain Iberica, S.L.U.
Published: IRRIGAZETTE 186
It has been more than 60 years since “the truffle hunt” took an unexpected turn, evolving from being an
activity that is half-way between a hobby and eking a living out of the forest, in deprived areas, to become a
more profitable operation, with a significant socioeconomic incentive providing hope for certain geographical regions in Spain, where advanced depopulation went hand in hand with the reduced success of the agricultural and industrial sectors.
Gudar-Javalambre is one of these Spanish regions that has benefitted from this ‘cultural metamorphosis’,
which has transformed the driving force of its economy ,leaving behind the concept of subsistence farming to
become the reference epicentre for growth and investment in the national and European truffle growing
The increasing demand for black truffles, which is well above the production capacity of truffles in
any zone, has resulted in the emergence of certified mycorrhization nurseries, with truffle fungi
inoculated into oak seedlings (the main species accommodating this culture in the region) to satisfy
a strong domestic demand for the crop, as well as the export requirement, which represents another chapter
in the socio-economic transformation of the region.
Truffle farming is a relatively new agroforestry technique, so there is not sufficiently detailed
information available on the advantages of the management and use of irrigation to allow us to plan
the depths of water applied throughout its cycle, unlike other crops, where there is a direct relationship between
the supply of water and crop production; and we must remember that in this system, the oak trees are nourished
in order to receive the mycorrhizal fungi around their roots.
According to the statement made by Eladio Salvador Rendón, one of the pioneers of modern truffle farming
and one of the most experienced in the region, “for truffle farming, the uniformity of distribution of the water applications is particularly important”
Therefore, implementing the irrigation systems over the last 25-30 years has played a decisive role, allowing the crop to become established and considerably increasing the production figures because, bearing in mind the reduction in annual rainfall, the irrigation systems represent an essential support tool in the whole truffle farming
Based on this experience, the concept of a well designed irrigation system for truffle farming will
guarantee the survival of the plants in the initial stages and will represent a solid basis for the crop to obtain
the desired size and uniformity of the truffles.
For this reason, in order to try and define technically the different times when the varying amounts of water
can be applied, it is necessary to provide the irrigation system with a versatility that enables substantial
changes to be made to the wetted surface of the “scorch” (volume of soil with mycorrhizal roots and with a potential for production, the surface normally showing a lack of vegetation), by slightly modifying
some of the components, such as using the double stage rotor incorporated into NaanDanJain’s
Aquasmart 2002 and Aquamaster 2005 microsprinklers.
On the other hand, knowing and being able to control certain parameters of the “scorch” will allow the
producer to anticipate and optimise the depth of the water applied; with its nutritive effects on the oak tree;
and through preventative actions that could mitigate, for example, the temperatures that could be harmful
to the development and growth of the fungus.
At this stage, the AGTech application with Root Sense sensors, which determine the water potential and
temperature of the soil, allows decisions to be made that are complementary to the planning of the
irrigation, thus guaranteeing success in the monitoring and control of the crop’s development and
Read the whole article by clicking on the “download pdf” button.