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Biotechnological solutions for overcoming the challenges of processing tomato production
According to the Brazilian Center of advanced studies in applied economics (the CEPEA-Esalq/USP), the state of Goiás remains the main production region of the country, with more than 13 000 hectares of processing tomatoes planted last year. In that region, tomato growers have reached high yields and excellent levels of fruit quality thanks to the use of biotechnology, which has enabled them to respond to the stringent requirements of the industry, like fruit coloration and Brix degree (total soluble solids content).
A study carried out by Alltech Crop Science, in the city of Morrinhos (GO), has shown that the use of natural solutions based on amino-acids and potassium during the ripening phase of the tomato helps to increase total productivity by approximately 13%, increasing the proportion of ripe fruit at the time of the harvest, improving the Brix degree and therefore increasing the industrial yields by about 20%.
"These tools make it possible to naturally reduce the physiological stress on the plants, and help reach a hormonal balance. In this way, the crop develops in a more harmonious manner, mainly in terms of fruit structure. In the end, this will lead to heavier fruit, with a better color, a more uniform shape, as well as an improvement in the industrial characteristics like Brix degree and fruit firmness," explained agricultural engineer Marcos Revoredo, specialized in the technical issues of the "fruit and vegetable" department for the Alltech Crop Science company.
Agricultural sustainability is essential throughout the production cycle of processing tomatoes, involving issues both of profitability and food safety for the general population. The promotion of this balance, linked to the increase in productivity and in the quality of food products, requires constant updating of management practices. With this in mind, Brazilian tomato growers have increasingly integrated biotechnology into their production processes. They seek solutions that aim at preserving natural resources by making use of elements provided by nature itself.
Biotechnology can be implemented throughout the cultivation cycle, from soil preparation stages right up to the ripening of the tomato fruit. The products used are fertilizers and solutions based on polysaccharides obtained using fermentation processes, plant extracts, macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients made complex by quality amino-acids, according to a formula adapted to the requirements of each cultivation phase.
"We start from the principle that we want as natural a product as possible, and that is the basis of what we produce. In order to achieve that goal, we seek to maximize the use of available natural resources. Field results are better when we interfere less with the cultivation circumstances. And when we must intervene, this should be done as efficiently as possible. Today, 'less is more'," explained agricultural engineer Leonardo Porpino, head of technical issues nationwide for Alltech Crop Science.
In recent years, the company, which develops natural solutions to help overcome agricultural challenges, has recorded an average growth of approximately 30% in Brazil.