The name ‘super-high density hedgerow olive orchard’ (SDHOO) doesn’t direct us to the traditional views of beautiful rainfed olive groves. And yet, SDHOO importance is growing while being responsible for a relevant share of production. Concerns about the large quantities of water required in this production system are also rising and it is essential to limit irrigation to that strictly necessary to obtain a quality product.
During maturation water applied may be decreased, as, after a point the fruit water content rises but not the oil content. More water in the fruit doesn’t lead to a higher production but can complicate the extraction process.
Our goal was to evaluate the effects of different irrigation management strategies on the quantity and quality of olive oil produced in SDHOO. Results show that irrigation can be manipulated to obtain adequate oil content, without changing quality and fulfilling the characteristics for an extra virgin oil, the one with highest economic return.
University of Lisbon, Instituto Superior de Agronomia, LEAF - Linking Landscape, Environment, Agriculture and Food - PortugalLead applicant
Instituto Superior de Agronomia (ISA), School of Agriculture, is the largest and most qualified school of graduate and post-graduate degrees in the Agricultural Sciences, in Portugal, and its know-how is recognized nationally and internationally. With over 160 years of experience, it has been adjusting its teaching to both the technological evolution and the reality of the country, focusing both on quality and modernization. ISA was integrated in the Technical University of Lisbon in 1930. Since 2013 it became part of the University of Lisbon, resulting from the merger of the Technical University of Lisbon and the former University of Lisbon. It has about 2000 students in graduate and undergraduate programmes, a faculty of 124 teachers and 20 Researchers, including 128 PhDs. Located in the heart of Lisbon, Tapada da Ajuda – an Environmental and Botanical Park with about 100 ha, of recognized interest – it is also a pleasant place for events, recreational activities and the discovery of sites, such as the interesting Amphitheatre of Stone, the Belvedere, the Garden of the Parada, the Rugby field, the Astronomical Observatory, the Exhibition Pavilion, the Auditorium of Lagoa Branca, among others.
irrigacqua - Management, Innovation & Consulting, Lda. - PortugalInitiative partner
Strategy IRRIGACQUA aims at keeping the highest quality standards, while controlling costs, innovating and offering specialized advisory services in the irrigation sector. Our services allow us to attain leadership over our direct competitors. IRRIGACQUA has a strong innovation and scientific background, based on partnerships with Universities and Research Centres across the world. Providing training to farmers allows us to assess the needs of our clients as well as to highlight possible difficulties in adopting a particular product or service. Mission IRRIGACQUA ambition is to be the best and most successful enterprise in irrigation management, enhancing the quality of the services provided to our clients as well as risk control, water saving and increased profitability of our clients either by increasing their productivity and/or decreasing the operating costs. Aim To be the leader in the irrigation management sector with significant presence in all major geographic markets. Vision Our aim is to grow in the advisory service to farmers with special emphasis on irrigation management, taking advantage of the expansion of irrigation in Portugal and in Europe; particularly due to the impact of climate change that is known to carry an increased need for irrigating crops. We strive to be the best in the anticipation and quick response to our customer needs. Value Provide top quality services in all irrigated areas in which we compete, valuing our customers' investments.
Olivais do Sul - PortugalInitiative partner
The name ‘super-high density hedgerow olive orchard’ (SDHOO) doesn’t direct us to the traditional views of beautiful rainfed olive groves. And yet, SDHOO importance is growing while being responsible for a relevant share of production. Concerns about the large quantities of water required in this production system are also rising and it is essential to limit irrigation to that strictly necessary to obtain a quality product. During maturation water applied may be decreased, as, after a point the fruit water content rises but not the oil content. More water in the fruit doesn’t lead to a higher production but can complicate the extraction process. Our goal was to evaluate the effects of different irrigation management strategies on the quantity and quality of olive oil produced in SDHOO. Results show that irrigation can be manipulated to obtain adequate oil content, without changing quality and fulfilling the characteristics for an extra virgin oil, the one with highest economic return.
Our initiative shows how to produce olive oil from hedgerow olive orchards limiting water use without compromising oil quality and quantity: still obtaining an extra virgin olive oil.
Innovation of the process resides in a tight control of irrigation amounts, recurring to crop irrigation requirements modelling, based on prior field data obtained in a scientific research framework, but in collaboration with private companies. It also involves a parallel control of the quality parameters of olive oil.
The main contribution of our work is transferring solid background information from the scientific level to enterprises operating in the olive oil production sector and turn it into a useful contribution with economic and environmental benefits, with local repercussions.
Olive orchards are a major perennial crop in the Mediterranean agricultural systems; in Southern Europe they account for 49% of the olive harvested area in the world. In the last decade, traditional orchards (with less than 100 trees ha-1) are progressively abandoned due to economic reasons and are being replaced by highly productive irrigated hedgerow orchards, with very high trees density (up to 2000 trees ha-1). In Portugal, this intensification is particularly important in the South of the country, where the Mediterranean climate prevails. The high crop water demand of these dense canopies results in high irrigation requirements. They are also more demanding in investment, operation and management costs than the traditional systems but provide higher economic returns. In such context it becomes important to improve irrigation management and the adoption of sustainable irrigation practices which help coping with the scarcity of water in the Mediterranean regions.
Effects of irrigation management on the quantity and quality of the olive oil produced in a hedgerow olive orchard were evaluated. The farmer daily drip irrigation was compared with a deficit irrigation strategy regarding average fruit weight, maturity index, oil content in dry matter basis and total production/tree. Results show that the average fruit weight and oil content in dry matter were slightly higher in plants with usual water supply and the total production was significantly higher in this case, whereas maturity index increased slightly in the deficit irrigation treatment. Olive oil quality did not show significant differences between the two irrigation treatments and fulfilled the characteristics for an extra virgin olive oil.
The beneficiaries of this initiative are the olive and olive oil producers, the local population and the consumers.
Olive producers (farmers) by having at their disposal a strategy to produce with less resources (water and energy) and consequently with higher returns; olive oil producers (mills) because the fruits they receive have an optimized water content for the industrial processing balanced with production targets; the local population since a wise exploitation of surface and ground water resources is done by agricultural producers, lowering the risks in water scarcity scenarios.
In the first, scientific phase of the initiative, were involved: six scientists, four students, two laboratory technicians and four field technicians. A person was coordinating the scientific work and field technicians belonged to the enterprise, therefore were coordinated by the manager.
In a second phase, the overall initiative is coordinated by the enterprise manager, with a team coordinator in the scientific or technical work.
The main difficulties for the project operation can arise from:
a) low adherence of farmers – it is important to enrol local farmers which facilitates the transfer of technology, possibly through training actions.
b) problems with data collection and sensors functioning - this can be overcome by a close surveillance during the project implementation phase.
The benefits for the environment can be depicted as:
1) facilitate the industrial oil extraction process – as the fruits have lower water content the oil extraction is eased and the residue management issues minimized.
2) limit the quantities of groundwater extracted for irrigation
3) avoid nutrient leaching by excessive water application and consequent groundwater contamination
All the environmental benefits listed are related to economic benefits originating from more efficient processes and leading to higher profits.
The study began in 2011 in a super high density olive orchard with a scientific project that intended to integrate the in situ biophysical information on crop and land surface with remotely sensed observations to model the olive tree and orchard evapotranspiration and water use, to optimize irrigation scheduling at both levels. To accomplish with such objectives the following tasks took place: i) produce real-time estimates of olive transpiration, evaporation and ET ii) collect field data for soil evaporation and for transpiration; iii) Produce estimates for orchard transpiration and ET by integrating (modeling) remotely sensed vegetation indices with ground-based evapotranspiration; iv) relate crop water requirements with quality and production parameters.
In a next phase, the main scientific results are being transfered to an enterprise in a new innovation project directed to technology implementation.
Several publications of different types were produced targeting a broad audience from science to more technical levels.