Part of Florette Agrícola, an agricultural group that farms about 1,600 hectares of land across Spain, Castiflor Farm grows iceberg lettuce in a village near San Esteban de Gormaz in northern Spain. Lettuce yields are sensitive to changes in water supply. By focusing on water management and adopting automated drip irrigation, the farm has maintained the high quality of its lettuce while reducing water consumption by 18%.
Sustainability guides its operations, and the farm is committed to being a good employer, promoting best practice in the industry and supporting natural habitats for local animals.
Key areas of sustainable practice
The use of nitrogen is closely monitored via soil sampling as well as final product testing to ensure that application rates are optimized and cost-effective.
Pheromone traps are used to capture and monitor pest incidence so that plant protection products (PPPs) are only applied when defined threshold levels are exceeded. In addition, the use of biological pest control products with zero-residues, such as garlic extract, helps to further reduce pest incidence and minimize PPP use.
Automated drip irrigation is utilized to provide water to the growing crop and minimizes water use by applying targeted quantities above the root zone of the crops. It is estimated to be 25% more efficient than other methods of surface irrigation.
Nest boxes and perches have been erected around the farm to provide more habitats for insectivores such as birds and bats. In addition to supporting local biodiversity, the animals act as a form of biological control against insects and rodents.
Florette Agrícola employs many workers on fixed-term contracts, and offers substantial assistance and support to all staff. The farm helps with issues such as the application of work permits, organizing travel arrangements (from as far away as Thailand), and providing a support worker to help with any personal or financial matters.
The company is a member of the region’s Milagro XXI Foundation, which provides help and support to the local community through projects and social development schemes.
The farm works to promote best practice in the farming sector, and encourages rural employment through engaging with local universities, employment forums and agricultural businesses.
Learn more about Castiflor Farm’s story
Explore the case study, where you’ll find extra details on how the farm has performed against the program’s good practice standards and criteria, what external research reveals about the producer’s actions and how improved sustainability benefits them.
“To be chosen by McDonald’s to be part of the Flagship Farmers Program is especially meaningful to us as it is recognition from one of our most important partners of our efforts in the field of sustainable development and our policy of ongoing improvement towards excellence.”
“The concept of sustainability is the foundation on which Florette Agrícola grows their crops. Their commitment to reducing inputs while maintaining product quality and productivity is a key element to their success, and by ensuring that employees are content – both in work and during their own social time – has enabled Florette Agrícola to maintain high employee retention rates. Retaining well-trained and competent staff is crucial to the success of any business. The practices undertaken by Florette Agrícola demonstrate that the sustainability of lettuce production is not a one-dimensional issue.”
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“We created irrigation systems and water storage facilities. Today we enjoy a balanced water household.”
“We aim to set an example for farmers locally and to the industry as a whole.”