Location: Neropolis, Brazil 18°40’s 47°85’ W
Many people don’t know that some regions in Brazil have sunny climate and little rain that are perfect for growing our delicious tomatoes. But it all starts with great soil, and the higher quality of soil and nutrition our plants have access to, the better. In 2015, we were looking for ways to keep up with the growing demand for the ketchup our consumers know and love. Our crops in Brazil were reliant on overhead watering systems – instead of an underground water supply that gives crops water from the roots down. Unfortunately, this meant our tomato plants had shallow roots from the overhead water supply as the crops didn’t need to work hard to dig deeper into the soil to find moisture. We had an opportunity to grow stronger root systems, allowing our crops to access more nutrients to grow high quality tomatoes.
We worked closely with the farmers to introduce a system that applies nutrients to the soil as well as increasing the watering interval from 2-3 days, to a 9-day interval. Through “starving” the plant of water (don’t worry, they lived!), it forced the tomato plant to dig down and find water deeper in the soil which made it grow healthier and stronger roots. With root systems becoming much more robust, the plants were able to gain access to deeper layers of soil, leading to healthier, high-performing crops and more tomatoes! This pilot was originally implemented on three farms in Brazil but it has since been noticed that neighboring farmers have also adopted these practices beyond growing just tomatoes. Through knowledge-sharing, we have been able to help not only the growers we directly work with but also the farms and soils in the surrounding regions for years to come.