Pistachio pre-planting studies and work

To ensure the success of any agricultural project, it is essential to carry out preliminary studies to determine the technical and economic feasibility of the crop. Afterwards, if the feasibility is established and the profitability of the plantation is determined, it is also necessary to focus on the land in order to carry out work that allows its initial conditioning.

In pistachio cultivation, these preliminary studies and activities are essential to achieve optimum development of the plants and to reach the expected quantity and quality of production. Only in this way is it possible to obtain, over time, the projected benefits.

In this post we offer an overview of the different analyses, studies, designs and projections that must be carried out previously to know the viability of the pistachio plantation. In addition, we comment on the main tasks that are carried out to prepare the farm.

Studies prior to planting pistachios

Estudio de la calidad y disponibilidad del agua en la siembra del pistacho
Previous studies on water quality and availability in pistachio planting.

The previous technical studies are the ones that will indicate with certainty if a farm is suitable or not for the cultivation and optimum development of pistachio trees. These include the necessary analyses to guarantee the efficiency of the plantation and its high profitability. In addition, there is the financial analysis with which it is possible to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the project.

Let us see what each of these studies consists of.

Soil and climate analysis

Climate is the main conditioning factor in pistachio cultivation. It is studied through the analysis of historical data collected by meteorological observatories, on relative humidity, rainfall, evaporation, average temperature, etc.

  • In this way, it is possible to determine the amount of cold hours that the pistachio tree could receive and the water needs of the plantation, among other data.

Another conditioning factor is the soil. For this reason, it is always advisable to carry out calicatas, by perforating the soil and extracting samples to evaluate its structure and composition at different depths.

  • In this way, it is possible to find out data on the organic matter layer, impermeable layers, texture, pH, mineral nutrients, etc. This information makes it possible to determine how suitable the soil is for the correct development of the pistachio crop, what dose of nutrients should be applied, the possibility of waterlogging, etc.

Study of water quality and availability

It is necessary to know how much water is available for irrigation, either through wells on the farm or surface water. It is also important to evaluate the natural availability of water, through the soil water balance, and to consider the rainfall in the area, as in the case of rainfed crops.

On the other hand, determining the quality of the available water is also a factor in the success of the crop. For this purpose, samples are taken of the surface water (rivers) or groundwater (wells) supplying the land and parameters such as dissolved salts present in the water, pH, hardness (presence of magnesium, carbonates and calcium), etc. are defined.

  • For example, depending on the salinity, water can be absorbed more or less quickly by the soil substrate. On the other hand, magnesium and calcium are nutrients necessary for plant development that sometimes need to be added by fertilisers, but an excess of these nutrients can be detrimental.

Measuring the land

It is also necessary to carry out a precise measurement of the land, both to determine the actual area that can be used for pistachio cultivation and to determine how many plants can be planted.

High-precision technology is used for this, such as GPS global positioning systems or 3D scanners for topographic surveying. Drones equipped with sensors and cameras can also be used to complement a high-definition aerial survey.

Choice of pistachio variety

In the pistachio plantation, female varieties must be sown, to provide the fruit, and male varieties, which are the ones that produce the pollen.

The selection criteria will be determined mainly by the suitability of the variety to the climatic characteristics of the area. For the choice of male varieties, the main consideration is the correct synchronisation with the flowering of the female variety.

Design of the planting frame

Taking into account the characteristics of the soil, the availability of water and the pistachio varieties selected, the planting frame must be designed. This involves defining both the necessary distance between the trees and their correct spatial distribution.

For example:

  • In irrigated plantations a rectangular planting frame of 7×6, 7×5 or 6X5 can be chosen. A 7×6 means that the trees will be placed at:
    • 7 metres apart between lanes.
    • 6 metres apart within the rows.
  • For rainfed crops square planting frames are usual. For example:
    • A 6×6 frame in areas with annual rainfall greater than 400 mm, yielding approximately 280 trees/hectare.
  • Pollinator varieties should be planted upwind, in borders or terraces, so that pollen transfer is facilitated.

A good planting framework helps to optimise resources in crop management and reduce costs and facilitates mechanised harvesting activities.

Economic feasibility study

Any agricultural project must be based on an economic and financial study that provides data on the initial investment required, the annual production costs and the profitability of the plantation.

  • It consists of calculating the direct and indirect costs involved in pistachio cultivation, determining the return on investment and projecting the benefits over time.
  • It is essential to determine risks and limitations, identify opportunities and evaluate the different alternatives in order to achieve an efficient and economically stable project.

Work prior to planting pistachio trees

Labores previas a la siembra del pistacho
Preliminary work such as subsoiling, mouldboard ploughing and harrowing are essential for the correct preparation of the soil.

Preliminary activities in a pistachio plantation also include the preparation and improvement of the soil for the preparation of the farm. Such as the following:


One of the first tasks is to break up and decompact the soil layers using a subsoiler. This is a piece of equipment that scarifies the soil to a certain depth (approximately 0.80 m to 1.30 m deep).

In this way, the aeration of the soil is promoted and its conditions for drainage are improved, in order to help the growth of the plant, both its stem and its root system (roots).

Mouldboard ploughing

Another task that complements the previous work is mouldboard ploughing using an agricultural implement. Its main purpose is to break up large clods of earth.

It also helps to mix and incorporate the mineral amendments and fertiliser that have been used to improve or correct soil conditions.


This work is carried out in order to break up the clods of earth, which may have been left after ploughing, in order to achieve a finer soil. It is a very important activity because it increases the homogenisation of the various components of the soil and eliminates unnecessary drainage in the rows of the plantation.

Levelling the soil

This work is essential for the uniform distribution of irrigation water, the prevention of waterlogged areas and water saving.

For greater efficiency, automatic levelling of the soil using precision farming technology, such as GPS compatible tractors equipped with powerful precision software, is recommended.

Amendments and fertilisation

In the case of nutrient-poor soils, it is necessary to correct the deficit with a mineral amendment that provides the necessary quantities of magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, etc. Amendments are also used to correct soil acidity.

In addition, it is essential to fertilise beforehand, providing organic matter to supply other micronutrients and micro-organisms.  

Field Marking

Field marking, also known as painting, is a task that involves signaling all the lines or rows on the ground for planting crops, based on the specified distances in the plantation design.

Traditional marking methods are manual, but to increase precision and reduce labor costs, it is essential to integrate agricultural machinery with GPS systems. This allows for the programming of the planting layout and enables tractors to move across the field to carry out marking quickly and accurately.

Hole Digging

After the field has been fully marked, hole digging is carried out to plant new pistachio trees. Subsequently, other tasks such as irrigation, staking (placing a guiding element for the plant), and soil maintenance are performed.

Turnkey Plantation: Knowledge, Experience, and Technology at Your Service

Agróptimum. Plantación llave en mano en la producción del pistacho
Agróptimum. Turnkey planting in pistachio production.

In the cultivation of pistachios, almonds, olives, and grapes, it is crucial to have the guidance of experienced professionals with the knowledge and technology required to conduct studies and preliminary tasks.

At Agróptimum, we assist you in modernizing your agricultural operation and increasing its profitability. We provide comprehensive services, taking care of the design and execution of the plantation.

We have a multidisciplinary team of highly skilled professionals capable of conducting all the technical and economic studies necessary for initiating the cultivation. Additionally, we handle the execution of all the necessary tasks for land preparation.

We employ cutting-edge technology for maximum efficiency, speed, and precision in analyses and preliminary fieldwork. If needed, we manage the plantation comprehensively.

At Agróptimum, we are your partner in sustainable, innovative, and high-performance agricultural projects. Contact us, we offer a fresh business perspective for more profitable and efficient crops.