SLM Partners acquires 300ha Spanish permanent crop asset

The firm intends to transition the whole farm to organic certified production and will use regenerative practices such as planting cover crops between tree rows.

SLM Partners has acquired a 300-hectare permanent crop asset that will grow almonds, pistachios and olives in the southern Spanish city Murcia. Financial details were undisclosed.

Capital was deployed from the firm’s Silva Europe Fund, which was launched at the end of 2021 and has a €250 million target.

The firm has partnered with an unnamed local “regenerative organic farmer”, who has “achieved impressive results on his existing 1,800-hectare property”, said SLM.

The property consists of existing almond and olive orchards, as well as bare land for planting new trees, with the firm confirming that 130 hectares of almonds and pistachios will be planted this year.

SLM and its local partner “will focus on the implementation of regenerative practices including planting cover crops between tree rows, minimizing tillage, using composts and biological fertilizers, and planting hedgerows or pollinator habitats for integrated pest management,” the firm said in a statement.

“These systems can produce nuts, olives and other crops in a profitable way while storing carbon and improving soil health. By increasing soil organic matter, they also use water more efficiently. The entire farm will be transitioned to organic certified production, serving high-value organic markets in Europe,” SLM added.

SLM Partners’ agronomy director for Iberia João Roseiro said he hopes the asset will become a showcase for regenerative organic production of tree crops in Spain. “We will be measuring the impacts on soil health, carbon sequestration and biodiversity over the next 10 years,” he explained.

Speaking to Agri Investor upon the announcement of the Silva Europe Fund’s first close in November – the size of which was also undisclosed – SLM co-founder and managing partner Paul McMahon said the firm sees an opportunity “to make Europe and the Mediterranean countries like Spain and Portugal the real leaders in organic permanent crop production in the world”.

“We think there are real pockets of opportunity and that’s partly because there’s historically been less investment and less competition in Europe, so asset prices have not been bid up quite as high as maybe in California or Australia,” he added.