Experts from the Pharmacy Faculty and the Higher Technical School of Agricultural Engineering (Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingeniería Agronómica -- ETSIA) of the University of Seville have published a study that shows that when reducing the water used to water cherry tomato crops by more than 50%, the product not only maintains its quality, both commercially and nutritionally, but it also even increases the level of carotenoids, compounds of great interest in the food-processing industry. In addition to being natural colourings, some are Vitamin-A precursors, which are beneficial for the health and have cosmetic uses. These findings, published in the important international review Food Chemistry, are the result of a three-year study, during which the researchers analyzed two varieties of cherry tomatoes and other new types of tomatoes, in both autumn and spring cycles in ETSIA's own fields. The "controlled watering deficit," which is what this technique is called, consists of reducing watering as much as possible during the most resistant phase of cultivation and to increase the supply of water at the start of the phase of cultivation that is most sensitive to stress. "This is not about using half the water for no reason, but rather studying the water status of the plants and, knowing their needs, watering the crop in the right way and at the best time," explains the Agroforestry Sciences teacher Mireia Corell. This methodology benefits the farmer, opening a new area in the line of water-sustainable products that are differentiated in the market by reduced consumption of both water and energy. And, on the other hand, it brings added value to the consumer who buys a better quality product in terms of nutrition and environmental sustainability. (Source: Agriculture and Food News, ScienceDaily.
Photo Credit: University of Seville