4.5 million tons of fruit and vegetables are grown in the 35,000 hectares of solar greenhouses located in Almería and the coast of Granada, mainly tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, zucchini, melons and watermelons.
75% of this production is exported to countries of the European Union; consequently, the high quality and safety standards demanded by the large European distributors force producers of solar greenhouse crops to comply with strict certification systems and good agricultural practice standards.
To this end, a lot of soil, water and plant analyzes and multiple controls must be carried out on fresh product samples. In fact, this production area is the one with the highest concentration of agricultural analysis laboratories in all of Europe, certifying that products comply with the necessary quality and food safety standards.
Horticultural producers must also work hard to control the populations of multiple pests that can very negatively affect crop yields. One of the techniques employed is the use of pesticides, as regulated in the European Union by Regulation (EC) No. 396/2005.
The EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) published its latest annual study on pesticide residues found in food in April 2020. The data collected shows the levels of pesticide residues found in food in the European Union during 2018. In this study, of a total of 91,015 samples analyzed in the European Union, 4.5% exceeded the MRL values.
However, a study carried out by Labcolor in the 2019/2020 campaign, in which a total of 44,850 samples of the main crops of the provinces of Almería and Granada were analyzed, concluded that only 0.79% of the pesticides found exceeded the MRL.
These data corroborate the great efforts made in the solar greenhouses of Almería and Granada to achieve a high level of food safety, as the fruits and vegetables produced in this area have some of the lowest levels of pesticide residues in the European Union.
They also highlight the interest of solar greenhouse producers in the search for alternatives to chemical solutions (pesticides), such as biological control; a technique implemented on a large scale that is already the main one in 99% of the peppers and 60% of other horticultural products.