Location: Badajoz, Spain 38°90'N 7°90'E Spain is ketchup tomato heaven - with the perfect conditions to help us grow our delicious sun-ripened tomatoes, farmers have been growing at the Badajoz area since Roman times! The Vasquez family who owns Conesa, have been farming tomatoes with us for over three generations, passing down their expert tomato knowledge and ensuring each stage of the tomato growth is as good as it should be and will be in future. Over a decade ago, we partnered with them to help improve their agricultural practices and the quality of their tomato crops. We understood the main issue was the over-tilling of the fields. Tilling is a common farming technique that aims to prepare soil for the next crop by digging, stirring, and overturning the soil. Over time, through over-tilling and other sub-optimal practices, the top layer of soil, that feeds crops and helps them grow, becomes less penetrable - dry, and lacking the nutrients that are required to grow crops like our unique ketchup tomatoes. The higher quality of the topsoil, the more nutrients the plant has access to, creating stronger roots and better tomatoes. After all, irresistible taste starts with great soil.
Through ripping techniques, we cut through the hard impenetrable layers of soil and removed the soil compaction to obtain a deeper more fertile band of soil. Over time this helped the soil fill up with nutrients to improve the growth of our tasty tomatoes. We also introduced cover cropping (planting crops such as grasses intermittently between tomato harvests) to help strengthen the soil, give back nutrients in order to help build the soil back up. Through these soil-restoring practices, the topsoil layer increased significantly and so did the quantity of tomatoes in the Vasquez family’s fields. With this technique, we have helped improve organic matter from 0.94 to 1.8% and tomato yields from an average of 70-90 tons per hectare 110 tons/hectare annually from 2016 to 2021. At first, this was piloted in just four fields but today, 100% of farms growing Heinz tomatoes in Spain apply cover crops, and thanks to the hard work and expertise of the Conesa family, they are protecting the soil and the land for generations to come.