The Picarnero landscape where we have the property is located in the wide Ebro River valley, near the Planerón Ornithological Reserve, a nature reserve of very high environmental value managed by SEO/BirdLife for the protection of birds and steppe habitats.
On the property, besides the cultivation of hard wheat, we have a seasonal gully that in winter months usually fills with water, providing a magnificent resting stop for cranes. The crane is a migratory bird that nests in central and northern Europe and is considered an emblematic species in many countries.
In the property we have certified organic production and have no means of using irrigation methods. The wheat grows solely as a result of the limited rains that fall in the area, one of the most arid on the continent. This circumstance means lower production but with an elevated quality for its transformation into pasta. Normally the wheat produced is sold in bulk together with output from other growers from a wide area.
What we propose with this initiative is a differentiated outlet for the production from this property and specifically from this zone, which limited as it is, has a grand importance for biodiversity conservation and the local economy.
In the case of rainfed durum wheat farming in these arid areas with such an extreme climate, as found in the heart of the Ebro Valley, the problem of weeds isn't particularly relevant. Few species can grow and develop enough to compete with wheat. These climate and aridity conditions also tend to result in very low yields, although with high quality. Just like with weeds, the occurrence of other types of pests is rare. The dry atmosphere and low plant density encourage aeration and the scarcity of diseases.
In production, only the straw resulting after harvest is generated. If the year is very good and the harvest is abundant, there will be a lot of straw and it can be packed and sold for livestock use. However, the combine harvester usually chops the straw and spreads it across the field for its use as a nutrient and organic matter. Wheat bran, when making wholewheat pasta, is incorporated into the semolina and the resulting pasta.
Rainfed agriculture in these areas calls for specific jobs that are spread out over certain times of the year: land preparation before sowing, sowing, harvesting and ploughing the fields to improve the incorporation of organic matter. That's why in addition to this type of cultivation, we have olive trees for both oil and for table olives. Between the rainfed cereal and the olive trees, we split up our tasks according to the biological cycle, the agronomic cycle and the climate.