The European Union has signed with University of Jaén and INUO the financing agreement for the execution of the SOIL O-LIVE project (The soil biodiversity and functionality of Mediterranean olive groves: a holistic analysis of the influence of land management on olive oil quality and safety) endowed with almost 7 million euros to study the effect of agricultural management on the general health status of the soils of Mediterranean olive groves and its impact on the production and quality of olive oil produced in the Mediterranean region. This project is part of the Soil Heath and Food Mission of the Horizon Europe R+D+i program (European Union research and innovation framework program for the period 2021-2027) and it is coordinated by Antonio José Manzaneda Ávila, professor of the Department of Ecology at the University of Jaén and member of the ecology unit of the University Institute of Olive and Olive Oil Research (Spain).

After more than fifty years of intensive agriculture application, the environmental situation for many olive groves across the Mediterranean Region is quite dramatic in terms of land degradation, biodiversity impoverishment, functionality loss, which may have already impacted on the quality and safety of olive oil, one of the most important commodities produced in Europe. Through the implementation of a series of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary WPs, this project will perform the first rigorous diagnostic of the environmental situation of olive groves soils at a broad scale, considering the most important areas of olive production at the Mediterranean Region and its relationships to olive oil quality.

Soil O-live aims:

(i) to analyze the impact of pollution and land degradation on soils from olive groves in terms of multi-biodiversity, ecological function at different levels of organization and scales;

(ii) to investigate the relationship of soil health status with quality and safety of olive oil;

(iii) to implement effective soil amendments and ecological restoration practices that promote manifest soil biodiversity and functionality enhancements in permanent Mediterranean olive orchards across its native range of distribution, that should be translated to improvements in olive oil quality and safety;

(iv) to define rigorous ecological thresholds that allow to implement future clear norms and regulations in order to design a novel certification for healthy soils in European olive orchards.

Link to cordis note:

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