Baby Leaf - Spain, Florette AgricolaView summary of actions & benefits >>
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Key areas of good practice
Florette Agrícola is both GLOBALG.A.P. assured and LEAF accredited. These are certifications that guarantee high standards in health and safety, and environmentally responsible farming practices. Standards such as these give consumers confidence in the care farmers take to produce food and other products.
Employee health & welfare:
Florette Agrícola employs a large number of workers on fixed-term contracts. The farm offers substantial assistance to all staff, with issues from application of work permits, to organising travels arrangements, providing benefits to both the staff and the company.
Excellent communication lines between Florette Agrícola and parent company Florette enable quality issues to be addressed and high standards maintained.
The incidence of diseases in the plants has been reduced by altering seed rates during certain times of the year and according to weather conditions. This limits the amount of plant protection products being used, whilst maintaining raw material quality.
Pre-harvest risk assessments undertaken by the farm can identify any failure in the crop. Depending on its severity, the crop can be rejected in the field prior to harvest. This procedure ensures the integrity of all the raw materials reaching the processing plant.
Salads are one of the few items on the McDonalds menu which are not cooked prior to consumption. With this in mind a pre-harvest risk assessment is completed before salad crops are harvested, minimising any potential food safety hazards.
Florette Agrícola has made concrete bunded areas which are used for filling the crop sprayer. Any spillages can be captured, thus avoiding any pollution risk.
The farm’s greenhouses have automatic sensors which control the environmental conditions which are best suited to crop growth and disease reduction, thus minimising necessary inputs.
Florette uses composted organic matter to protect the ground against fungus and weeds, which has reduced the use of chemical soil sterilisers by 15,000 kg.
Soil testing for phosphate, potash, magnesium and acidity (pH) is undertaken when new fields are introduced into the farming system. Ensuring nutrient rates are tailored to crop needs minimises the risk of applying excessive fertiliser.
The farm has chosen to undertake tests for nitrogen levels in soil and in leaf samples to ensure accurate nitrogen. This policy has lead to a 30% reduction in the use of nitrogen fertilisers. The farm’s policy is to reduce soil nitrogen levels to 50 kg/ hectare in the week prior to harvest, benefitting raw material quality, reducing fertiliser costs and diminishing soil nitrogen reserves which limits the risk of leaching.
The farm uses fertigation to ensure that nutrients are applied to the growing plants in the correct dosage, at the optimum time and at a specific stage of plant growth. The benefit to the farm of the fertigation system is that the plants receive measured amounts of liquid fertiliser as the crop requires them (when plants are vegetative - growing) and nutrient levels are then decreased as the crop approaches harvest.
Pheromone traps on the farm are checked twice per week by the technicians and if determined threshold levels are exceeded then a spray programme can be implemented which is best suited to the degree and stage identified.
To enable improved control over the crops' growing environment the farm grows around 90% of its produce in greenhouses. These provide an environment favourable to reducing disease and pest incidence, reducing input costs and any risks associated with their use.
The farm has found that by reducing the seed rates and therefore plant density at specific times of the year, the growing crop suffers less from fungal disease outbreaks, which then requires less fungicide control. Along with the use of pheromone traps this policy has reduced pesticide use by an overall 20%.
The farm uses a system of micro-sprinklers which are designed to reduce the quantity of irrigation water applied to the crop. This system produces a uniform application of water which decreases the likelihood of flooding and improves water use efficiency.
In the fields where the farm has greenhouses, a small reservoir has been constructed for collecting rain water to use for irrigation.
The business supports the Milagro XXI Foundation which helps the local community with several different projects and social development schemes.