Antonio Rico is a resident of Torrox (Granada) who, at 82 years old, can boast of being a true Leonardo da Vinci of the 21st century. For more than three decades, he has patented a total of 25 inventions, mostly related to the construction sector, but also to agriculture and fighting forest fires. In the agricultural field, he has successfully developed, since 2017, an underground drip irrigation system that saves up to 70% of water in agricultural plantations, according to Diario Sur.
At a critical moment for the Axarquia subtropical sector, with the La Viñuela reservoir at just 14% of its capacity, Creacciona, the company managed by his 38-year-old son Ernesto, is receiving new orders every day from the product, named 'DeepDrop'. This graduate in Business Administration and Management explains that the results obtained so far are "very satisfactory", managing to reduce the water footprint in avocado plantations from a range of 800 to 1,200 liters of water per kilo of fruit to between 250 and 350 liters .
"We are very satisfied with the results obtained, since we have achieved greater efficiency in water consumption in all the plantations that have opted for the use of the device," says Rico, who details that 'DeepDrop' is a patented irrigation system that has the water directly to the root of the plant "in a fully automated way, transforming any surface irrigation system, which is the majority of those currently in existence, into an underground irrigation system".
As detailed by the entrepreneur from Torrox, the benefits of his invention are not limited only to the reduction in water consumption, but rather greater production has been detected in the plantations by avoiding situations of water stress in the plants, while preventing the poisoning of the fauna, especially of the birds that ingest the liquid element directly from the surface irrigation systems, which is usually mixed, on numerous occasions, with fertilizers and other chemical products.
The company is in the process of growth and there are "many" producers and companies that are already using the device. Thus, they have already installed some 150,000 devices in some 70 farms, mainly in Spain, especially in the eastern region, although the company from Torrox already works with distribution companies in Chile, Paraguay, Mexico, Israel, Qatar or the United Arab Emirates and they are negotiating to also introduce the irrigation system on the French market.
"It is not only a matter of saving water in drought areas, but it also allows optimizing the performance of fertilizers used in agriculture, reducing water stress in avocado plantations," argues Rico, who highlights who have been working for more than three years together with the Institute of Subtropical and Mediterranean Horticulture La Mayora, belonging to the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC).
"We are firmly convinced that 'DeepDrop' represents a great advance in saving irrigation water, in a context marked by drought and the scarcity of water resources that many agricultural producing areas of the country are suffering. We have a clear example in Axarquia, where the La Viñuela reservoir is in a critical situation with truly alarming levels”, Rico points out.
Above, the systems in an avocado farm; bottom left, in a mango tree in La Mayora de Algarrobo, and to the right, Antonio Rico, 82 years old. SOUTH
Finally, the businessman from Torrox also points out that the system is valid for all types of crops, both outdoors and under plastic, as well as for gardens and public parks. In this sense, he reveals that there have already been contacts with some municipalities to study its use in municipal parks and gardens.