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  • Weather Station by dryGrow Foundation

    Our new Meteo station

    Dear friends and guest of our website our weather station is online

    We are pleased to announce that we have recently installed our new Netatmo weather station in 96010 Cassaro (SR) Sicily.
    The decision to implement it was the result of inaccuracy and gaps in the manual meteorological data detection and then transcribing data daily to the computer. Now we have 24 hour weather data for every day, which is automatically recorded and is always available to those who serve.

    Stazione Meteo Temperatura dryGrow Laboratorio
    After careful evaluation we decided to purchase a Netamo weather station which consists of 2 internal probes, 1 outdoor, 1 rain gauge and 1 wind gauge.
    One of the main factors to acquire this station was the ability to detect air quality by measuring value of CO2 in ppm.

    Our Meteorological Station is located at dryGrow Foundation laboratory and research center at the Agriturismo Porta Pantalica  in Contrada Mascà in 96010 Cassaro (SR) in Sicily. The data is at disposal for Agricultural, research and touristic purposes starting now.

    The main purpose of the station is to detect and record meteorological data, temperature, atmospheric pressure, relative humidity, wind and precipitation. We record precise weather data during the year to our experimental field with intensive opuntia ficus indica plantation.

    Weather station Agriturismo Porta Pantalica temperature

    We also monitor the temperature of humidity and air quality within our micro propagation laboratory in which we multiply opuntia cactus plants for intensive cultivation for animal feed and biomass production, in particular we measure the temperature in our growth chamber to keep it constant on 30 degrees Celsius temperature.

    This weather data is made available to all those interested via the Internet online, so also to those who are generally interested in moving around in the Anapo Pantalica Natural Park or visiting the Agriturismo Porta Pantalica for a lunch or a dinner or even for an overnight stay.

    We would be happy to receive you and to inform you about the activities of the dryGrow Foundation.


  • Synonyms / Common Names / Related Terms

    4-hydroxyproline(II), alpha-pyrone glycoside, barbary fig, betalains, betanin, Blanca Cristalina, Cactaceae (family), cactus flowers, daucosterol, (E)-ferulic acid, Esmeralda, gracemere-pear, indicaxanthin, L-(-)-malic acid, Naranjona, nopal cactus, nopal flour, nopales, nopalito, nopalitos, nopals, nopol, Opuntia, Opuntia basilaris (beavertail cactus), Opuntia chlorotica (pancake prickly pear), Opuntia compressa var. humifusa (eastern prickly pear), Opuntia dillenii, Opuntia ectodermis, Opuntia elator, Opuntia engelmannii (calico cactus, Engelmann prickly pear, Engelmann’s pear), Opuntia erinacea (grizzly bear Opuntia, hedgehog prickly pear, porcupine prickly pear), Opuntia ficus-indica (Indian fig Opuntia), Opuntia fragilis (brittle cactus, little prickly pear), Opuntia humifusa (eastern prickly pear, low prickly pear, smooth prickly pear), Opuntia hyptiacantha, Opuntia laevis, Opuntia lasciacantha, Opuntia leucotricha (arborescent prickly pear, Aaron’s beard cactus, duraznillo blanco, nopal blanco, semaphore cactus), Opuntia lindheimeri (Texas prickly pear), Opuntia littoralis (sprawling prickly pear), Opuntia macrocentra (black spine prickly pear, purple prickly pear), Opuntia macrorhiza (plains prickly pear, tuberous prickly pear), Opuntia megacantha, Opuntia microdasys (bunny ears), Opuntia phaeacantha (brown-spinded prickly pear, New Mexico prickly pear, purple-fruited prickly pear), Opuntia polyacantha (plains prickly pear), Opuntia puberula, Opuntia pusilla (creeping cactus), Opuntia robusta, Opuntia rufida (blind prickly pear), Opuntia santa-rita (Santa Rita prickly pear), Opuntia spinosbacca (spiny-fruited prickly pear), Opuntia stricta (coastal prickly pear, spineless prickly pear), Opuntia strigil (bearded prickly pear), Opuntia velutina, Opuntia violacea (purple prickly pear, Santa Rita prickly pear), opuntin B(I), opuntioside, opuntioside-I, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, penca, polyphenols, prickle pear cactus, prickly pear cactus, Sicilian cactus pear, tuna, tuna cardona, tyrosine(III), westwood-pear.

  • The dryGrow Foundation is a non profit organization whose mission is to improve agriculture in semi-arid areas of the globe trough Opuntia Cactus by applying modern knowledge and techniques, in order to be able to imagine a new agriculture where plants, animals and humans can live in harmony.

    To do this we make use of plants and their cultivation methods to improve the lives of people and communities living in semi-arid areas of the globe using mainly opuntia cactus.

    Our research center for sustainable agriculture is located close to Ferla and Cassaro in the province of Siracusa in Sicily. Our Sicilian operating headquarters is located at the "Agriturismo Porta Pantalica in Cassaro", we collaborate with researchers of the University of Catania and with local farmers who have given to our disposal land for trials.

    In this location we found the ideal situation for research and development and the opportunity to try innovative methods of planting and harvesting opuntia for forage production. We have a nursery, which consists in a greenhouse and a laboratory of micropropagation and operational analysis. There are experimental fields, where we made intensive cultivations of opuntia cactus and an extensive collection of types of O. ficus-indica and Nopalea we got from around the world.

    Here we are trying and improving our methods of cultivation, the multiplication of plants, the harvesting and how to feed them to animals. Since May 2016 we are able to export our propagation material obtained from in vitro propagation worldwide in large quantities.

    The technique that we use to get high-quality plants is based on micropropagation which allows the production of plants certified by the phyto-sanitary point of view, we can ship our plantlets all over the world to support agriculture in disadvantaged areas.

    Plants that can help you make the most of these areas, where desertification is taking the upper hand, belonging to the family Cactaceae and varieties attributable to the genus Opuntia Cactus.

    These opuntia cactus plants have the advantage of being used as a valuable resource for forage but also for human sustenance ensuring greater food security and well being for the people and at the same time allowing you to fight soil erosion. These plants are characterized by a high water content (85-93%), in fact using cladodes as food resource may can also fulfill the water needs in livestock, and obtaining substantial water savings at the same time.

    The species, which we have used are Opuntia ficus-indica and Nopalea spp.. The purpose of intensive plantations of these species is to use soils in semi-arid areas to achieve significant increases in biomass production for farmers. These cacti are easily adapted in drought situations, in conditions unsuited to other plants.

    Through an intensive cultivation technology of cactus, with rainfall between 300-500mm, we get a production of 300-500 tons of biomass per hectare and year.

    We carefully select the right varieties of Opuntia Cactus or Nopalea suited to target area, we bring our knowledge and enthusiasm to involve farmers and families in these projects. The species mainly used are varieties of Opuntia ficus-indica and Nopalea spp.

    Our propagation material is bred in the laboratory by means of the micropropagation technology, we are thus able to provide opuntia young seedlings of high quality in quantities needed for implanting large surface areas.

    The seedlings are provided by us free of substrate and not yet rooted. The most efficient method to get faster in large quantities seedlings with affordable cost is definitely that of propagation in vitro.

    We specialize in both in vitro cultivation with liquid substrate and solid substrate. Using this technique, we can ensure that our planting material comes from known species and are free from diseases and pests.

    The varieties we produce at this time are Gigante (Opuntia ficus-indica Mill), Orelha de elephante mexicana (Opuntia stricta Haw) and Mao de moça (Nopalea cochellinifera Salm Dyck), those varieties are considered the most promising and are already widely used for the production of biomass, they are also quite productive, more resistant to cochineal carmine and adaptable to poor soils and are more palatable by livestock.

    We are ready to export this material and send free samples for testing to your site, number 200 of the variety (Gigante and Orelha de elefante Mexicana). We are interested in how these plants fit in your climate and in how to feed these plants to your animal herds.

    Please send us a brief description of your projects and if and when you are ready to receive our material. For this first supply the plants shall be free, and the shipping costs are paid by dryGrow.

    We also would like to know when you are willing to receive this material from us. For this first supply the plants shall be free, and the shipment costs are borne by us.

    Please also discuss our project with the local Phyto-sanitary authorities in order to avoid import and export issues, and thus let us know what types of certificates are needed to import our seedlings in your country.

    We also offer the service to develop micropropagation protocols of plants that have difficulty by in vivo propagation. You can provide plant material (cuttings, whole plants or seeds) and we will try to optimize the multiplication of this plants using the technique of micropropagation. We remain at your disposal for any clarifications.

    Best regards,

    dryGrow Foundation Team Sicily

    Opuntia Cactus - Agriturismo Porta Pantalica

  • Sustainable Agriculture for the semi-arid

    Location: drGrow's sustainable agriculture centre in Cassaro Sicily

    Sicily has long been known for its dry climate, and on this semi-arid island the Opuntia ficus-indica cactus is farmed to a great extent primarely for its sweet prickly pear. The Opuntia however is not farmed for animal feed and this is where dryGrow can play a major role researching the potential of cactus for fodder.

    San Cono Sicilia ScozzolaturaAt the Cassaro  farm, we are working together with the University of Catania and farmers to test our methods of planting and harvesting the Opuntia ficus-indica. Through using a greenhouse, planting high density, and having local reference plantations; we are testing and improving our methods. The Sustainable Agriculture Center will become a demonstration center for the public as well as providing workshops to train farmers how to utilize our methods.

    Agriturismo Porta Pantalica Siracusa Sicilia

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