El Capricho

Mulching in tropical crops.


El Capricho

Case Study Contents

About Farm

Farm Name

El Capricho (Jesús Villena).

Year of foundation



El Algarrobo, Málaga (Spain).

Farm area/size of the organisation:

3.5 ha

Number of workers:

2 workers

Farm main activity:

Tropical Fruit trees.

Climate and soil characteristics

Coast of Malaga, Axarquía region. Mild temperatures in summer and winter.
485 mm average rainfall. Sloping terrain with terraces and sandy loam soil.

Measure Information

Description of the measure

Since 2009, when the farm entered organic production, they have tried to improve the soil, increase water use efficiency and enhance nutrition.

Thus, they applied green manure, incorporated pruning waste and plant material, and also maintained vegetation covers, with the aim of creating a layer of surface humus. Since then, they have evolved in terms of management, maintenance and the machinery used to carry out the work.

They have a drip irrigation system with a programmer and solar panels, which has been complemented with a micro-sprinkler system.

Objective of the measure

At first, the main objective was to improve the nutritional aspect by adding organic matter, but over time other benefits became evident. The system conserved soil moisture better, making it possible to reduce the irrigation and improve pest control by the auxiliary fauna linked to the ground cover.

Justification of the choice

Converting to organic production entailed nutritional challenges, which required the reuse of all available organic matter. Soil improvement, increasing the availability of organic matter, increasing cation exchange capacity and improving water retention capacity justify the initiatives undertaken.

Where did You get information of the measure from?

The farmer got his start in agriculture through urban garden projects linked to organic farming. This experience inspired him to become a professional farmer and to convert his father’s farm from conventional to organic farming.

Description of the situation before the measure implementation

Until 2005, the farm was an orchard. Then the avocados were planted. In the early years, Jesús’ father followed a conventional plantation management with occasional use of herbicides, pesticides and chemical fertilisers.


Stakeholders involved

Cooperatives, agricultural organisations, experimental stations and suppliers.

Description of stakeholders’ role

  • Technical advice.
  • Training.
  • Accompaniment.
  • Marketing.

Implementation phase

Description of the survey done for the implementation

Training and access to specific literature are of great help. The suppliers, the agricultural organisation COAG and the cooperatives have provided information and technical advice, for the organic management system.

Materials used

  • Seed for green sowing.
  • Shredder.
  • Brush cutter.
  • Irrigation programmer.
  • Solar panels.
  • Pumps.
  • Drip and micro-sprinkler irrigation system.

Costs for the implementation

Conversion to organic production can reduce the production of an existing plantation or delay the entry into production of a new plantation.

In the case of Jesús, the conversion was made from year 5, which minimised the impact on the entry into production and on the profitability of the crop.

Implementation / building

At the beginning, they sowed gramineae and legumes for green manure management, which they then incorporated into the soil. Later, they opted to keep the adventitious weeds on the plot. This allowed them to reduce costs, respect the soil structure, maintain biodiversity and adapt to the increasingly shaded lines due to the crop itself.

Required maintenance operations

The climatic conditions (high humidity and moderate temperatures) and the richness of organic matter in the plantation facilitate the rapid development of weeds. Thus, a cut with a brush cutter needs to be done every 2-3 months in order to maintain a well-tended vegetation cover that does not look abandoned.

Recommended knowledge / skills / training / courses / education desired before starting the measure implementation

Training in organic farming provides a good deal of knowledge about soil and soil management and organic fertilisation. It should be complemented with specific training on fertilisation, pruning, irrigation management, new technologies, ground cover and integrated crop management. And the tools that are best suited to the farm must be known.


This soil management has led to a 40% reduction in water consumption and less energy use. Organic management has led to savings in fertilisation, although organic nitrogen fertilisers are more expensive, and in the use of herbicides, although the maintenance of plant covers is more expensive and needs for additional manpower.

The vegetation covers improve soil conservation, reducing soil erosion.

In addition, biodiversity and the presence of auxiliary fauna to control pests and diseases have been boosted.

Irrigation efficiency has been enhanced by improving soil capacity and the use of tools (programmers, drippers, solar panels).

Organic farming requires more labour, which means more jobs and a greater number of annual working days, and therefore more income and population fixation in the region. It is also a factor in attracting a migrant population that provides greater cultural diversity to a region with a strong tourist character.
These crops are exclusive to this region, given its climatic characteristics. Variations in these conditions in the medium term, due to climate change, may have a negative impact on a production structure oriented towards subtropical crops. Current climatic variations are already having an impact on yields.


Key element for success

Conviction, training, perseverance and tolerance of frustration are key factors to remain firm in organic management.


Physical constraints

The presence of sandy loam soils has required more effort and time to improve their structure and fertility than clay soils.

The proximity to the sea means that in times of drought, saline concentrations increase in groundwater resources.

Technological constraints

Technical knowledge in organic farming is needed in order not to fall into trial and error.

Knowledge of innovations in organic agronomic tools is needed to avoid being limited by the constraints traditionally associated with organic farming.

Acceptance constraints

The transition to organic management requires conviction and patience; critical voices and environmental pressures arise at hard times.

Most farmers see grass as a competitor to the crop, but it is difficult to change this mentality towards seeing grass cover as an ally.

Proposed solutions to above constraints

In addition to mulching, there are commercial alternatives such as amendments with humic acids, fulvic acids, leonardites or commercial organic compounds in gel or pellet format.

The risk of changes in climatic cycles will make it necessary to identify varieties and/or rootstocks that are better adapted to these changes and to the appearance of new pests and diseases.

Lesson learned

Farmers’ experiences

Jesús is very satisfied with the experience. He has implemented a responsible organic management, which provides his farm with economic, environmental and social synergies that are in line with his values and his understanding of farming.


“Agriculture is very demanding; we must be trained and think about any initiative”.

Measure sustainability

Environmental sustainability

These initiatives had important effects: reduced water consumption, increased biodiversity, improved soil fertility and structure, soil conservation, etc.

However, in recent years there have been climatic variations related to the temporal and spatial distribution of rainfall, which are affecting flowering.

Economical sustainability

Subtropical crops (mango, avocado) have experienced an extraordinary boom due to a high profitability, derived from high prices, especially for organic products with high demand in Europe. However, they have a slow entry into production and their productivities can delay a positive return on investment (6-8 years).

Transfer of the measure

Replicability conditions required

  • Knowledge.
  • Convincing.
  • Change of mentality.
  • Availability of technical studies.
  • Dissemination.

Additional Required Conditions for spreading the measure

  • A change in farmers’ mentality; for many, grasses are a problem rather than a solution.
  • In Spain, the introduction of this type of measure will require an economic incentive through the CAP.
  • Areas with soil loss make it advisable to use mulching as a conservation tool.

Probably these measures are more widespread outside Spain. Anyway, implementation is based on the conviction that these measures have a positive impact.

Conclusion remarks

Managing an organic crop starts from believing in the organic system. Jesus’ experience shows us how mulching has helped him to improve many aspects such as erosion control, improving soil structure, soil moisture conservation, irrigation water consumption savings, increased fertility, improved biodiversity, biological control, etc.

Future plans

  • Future plans are to increase mango production, which is still in the early stages of production.
  • Jesus is going to introduce new varieties, trying to find new agronomic and market opportunities.
  • New irrigation equipment and systems will be introduced in order to reduce water consumption.

Open problems

Soil management does not have immediate results, so we must be aware of this in order not to despair and not to abandon measures that will have an impact in the long term.

Ecological management makes it possible to defend better prices, but this type of production requires higher production costs and lower yields.


Privacy Policy

At AGRIWATER we take the protection of your personal data very seriously. Our purpose is to protect the privacy of the data you provide us and to comply with the current regulations on the protection of personal data.

In compliance with the Act 3/2018 of 5 December on the Protection of Personal Data and Guarantee of Digital Rights transposing Regulation (EU) 2016/679, we inform you of the following information about our privacy and data protection policy:

Who the controller of the processing of your data?

The organization responsible of your data is Asociace soukromeho zemedelstvi Ceske republiky, ID E10133738. This is a non-governmental organization located in Prague, Czech Republic.

Samcova 1177/1
Praha 1


Email contact

What is the purpose of the treatment?
  • To respond to requests, complaints and incidents transferred through our contact channels incorporated in the website.
  • To understand the behaviour of the navigator within the web in order to detect possible computer attacks on our web.
  • Comply with legal obligations that are directly applicable to us and regulate our activity.
  • To protect and exercise our rights or to respond to complaints of any kind.
  • Submission of newsletters regarding the goods or services that make up the activity of the responsible person or news related to his activity.


What is the legal base of the treatment?

The legal basis for the treatment of your data is the consent of the data subject under article 6.1 a) of the Regulation, as well as the legitimate interest of the data controller under article 6.1 f) of the Regulation.

The data we request from you are adequate, relevant and strictly necessary and in no case are you obliged to provide them to us, but their non-communication may affect the purpose of the service or the impossibility of providing it.

For how long do we keep your data?

Your data will be kept for the time required for the proper provision of the service offered, as well as to meet the responsibilities that may arise from it and any other legal requirement.

Which recipients will receive your data?

In the course of processing your data, Asociace soukromeho zemedelstvi Ceske republiky may share your data with:

On Projects Advising SL, as web management and maintenance service providers.

What are my rights?
  • Right of access: the right to obtain confirmation of whether personal data is being processed, as well as the right of access to such data.
  • Right to rectification of personal data.
  • Right to erasure
  • Right to limitation of processing
  • Right to data portability
  • Right to object: the right to object to data being processed.

The controller retains the right to restrict the rights set forth in Article 23 of the EU Regulation, if such restriction is provided to safeguard, in particular fundamental rights and freedoms and is a necessary and proportionate measure.

Where can I make a complaint?

If any interested party considers that their data are not being treated correctly, they can send their complaints to the following e-mail address; kristyna.strnadova@asz.cz, Asociace soukromeho zemedelstvi Ceske republiky.

The data subject declares to have acquired all this information.

Cookies Policy

What are cookies?

A cookie is a file that is downloaded and executed on your computer, phone, or mobile device when you access certain web pages. Cookies allow a website, among other things, to store and retrieve information about user’s browsing habits and recognize the user depending on the information they contain and the way they use their computer.

Cookies do not harm your computer and are necessary to facilitate navigation.

What are cookies used for on our website?

Cookies are necessary for our website to work properly. The purpose of our cookies is to improve the user’s browsing experience. They can be used to remember your preferences (language, country, etc.) during navigation and on future visits.

The information collected in the Cookies also allows us to improve the website and adapt it to the individual interests of users, speed up searches, etc.

What types of cookies does our website use?

Analysis Cookies: These, if they are used properly by us or by third parties, allow us to quantify the number of users and thus perform the measurement and statistical analysis regarding the users’ usage of our service.

Advertising Cookies: These, if they are used properly by us or by third parties, allow us to manage as effectively as possible the supply of advertising space on the website, adapting the content of the advertisement to the content of the service requested or to the use you make of our website.

What we will NOT use cookies for

Our cookies do not store information about your personal identification, address, password, credit or debit card details, etc.

Who uses the information contained in these cookies?

The information stored in the website’s cookies is used exclusively by us, apart from those identified below as “third party cookies”, which are used and managed by external entities to provide us with services to improve our own services and the user’s experience when browsing our website.

Third party cookies are mainly used to obtain statistics and to guarantee the payment operations are carried out.

Can I prevent cookies from being used?

Yes, firstly, you must disable cookies in your browser and, secondly, delete the cookies stored in your browser associated with this website.

You can restrict, block, or delete cookies from this website at any time by modifying your browser settings. This setting is different for each browser. For more details on the configuration of cookies in your browser, please consult your browser’s “Help” menu.

It is possible that some of the website’s features may no longer work if you disable cookies.

List of cookies that our website uses
Technical and customization cookies

These Cookies are used to identify the user during the session, prevent the user from having to repeat authentication processes on the website, speed up some website processes, remember selections made during the session or on subsequent accesses, remember pages already visited, etc.





User identification

They are used to identify and authenticate the user. They also contain technical data from the user session, such as connection timeout, session identifier, etc.



Session identification

They identify the user’s http session. They are common in all web applications to identify requests from a user’s session.



Navigation status

They help identify the user’s browsing status (login, first page, first access, scroll status, voting status, etc.).



Navigation analysis cookies

These Cookies obtain generic information about users’ accesses to the website (not the content of the same) to subsequently provide us with information about these accesses for statistical purposes.





Google Analytics (__utma, __utmb, __utmc, __utmd, __utmv, __utmz, _ga…)

They allow website statistic’s tracking through the Google Analytics tool, which is a service provided by Google to obtain information about user access to websites. Some of the data stored is: number of times a user visits the website, dates of the user’s first and last visit, duration of visits, from which page the user accessed the website, which search engine was used or which link was clicked, from which part of the world the user accessed the website, etc. The information generated by the cookie about your use of the website will be directly transmitted and stored by Google Inc (a company located in United States). The configuration of these cookies is predetermined by the service offered by Google, so we suggest you consult the Google Analytics privacy page, for more information on the cookies it uses and how to disable them (keep in mind that we are not responsible for the content and accuracy of third-party websites).


Third Parties