Pacu farming is carried out in rice fields in La Leonesa, Chaco. (Photo: Formosa.Gov.ar)
Chaco, a pioneer in pacu and rice rotary farming
Tuesday, April 03, 2012, 02:40 (GMT + 9)
Arrocera San Carlos is a pioneer in the country as to the combined and rotary rice and pacu farming. At its plant in the town La Leonesa, in Chaco, in the north of the country, the company uses an area of about 210 hectares for this innovative activity.
The rotation between rice and a fish resource is an alternative to the traditional alternation between wheat and soybean, which is common in Argentina.
This initiative developed in Chaco could be the source of a revolutionary new productive potential for entrepreneurs in the country, the newspaper La Nación reported.
In the facilities in Chaco, 90 hectares are intended to pacu (Piaractus mesopotamicus) farming and 120 hectares are used to farm rice.
Starting this autumn, the area where rice has been harvested will be stocked with pacu specimens. In addition, the lots with pacu will produce rice after having been planted in October.
The executives of the Arrocera San Carlos invested almost USD 1,600 per hectare in order to refit the perimeter of the plots in order for them to withstand a water column of 1.3 metres.
It is expected 7,500 kg of rice is produced per hectare, and between 2,000 and 3,000 kg of pacu will be produced per hectare, implying a harvest of about 170 tonnes of pacu this autumn-winter period.
Through this rotary farming, the idea is to achieve greater sustainability than that offered by the traditional model of rice production.
During the next sowing season, the businesspeople will assess whether fish excretion contributes to soil fertility, thanks to the generated minerals and nutrients.
As reported by La Nación, the project began almost two years ago when the owners of the company, Eduardo and Martín Meichtry, met with Néstor Gromenida, an expert with 20 years’ experience in aquaculture.
At that time, the Meichtry brothers were facing strong pressure from environmental groups that accused them of polluting the soil, the environment and the population of La Leonesa with the use of herbicides.
Although the studies of the soil and the water carried out by the company did not reveal signs of contamination, the accusations did not stop. To show with facts that there was no pollution, the idea to venture into fish farming came about, as fish are very sensitive to chemicals.
The entrepreneurs decided to set the aquaculture facility Isla-Pé, located in Clorinda, Formosa, and learned about pacu’s full cycle.
Since then, Gromenida has been provided them with fry.
Gromenida explains that in these extensive farming systems of the pacu, with densities of about 2,000 fish per hectare, without the renewal of water and with a mixed diet of natural plants and feeds, it is possible to harvest between 2,000 to 3,000 kilos of pacu per hectare.
Moreover, pacu production allowed rice farmers to sow pregerminated rice seeds in 3 centimetres of water, providing a lot of advantages over conventional planting. As the soil contains a lot of mud and nutrients, then it is not necessary to rotovate and to use herbicides.
By Analia Murias