The University of Jaén hosted the launch meeting 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). The main objective will be the study of the effect of agricultural management on the general health status of the soils of Mediterranean olive groves, as well as its impact on the production and quality of olive oils produced in the Mediterranean region.
The project, coordinated with the University of Jaén and the INUO, has a consortium made up of 17 partners and has financing of almost 7 million euros within the framework of the Soil Heath and Food Mission of the Horizonte R+D+i program Europe (European Union research and innovation framework program for the period 2021-2027).
The inaugural ceremony was inaugurated by the Rector of the University of Jaén, Juan Gómez Ortega, who was accompanied by the director of the University Institute for Research in Olive Groves and Olive Oils of the UJA (INUO), Juan Bautista Barroso, and the coordinator of the project, the professor of the Area of Ecology of the UJA, Antonio José Manzaneda. “For the University of Jaén it is a privilege to be able to coordinate this project and a sample of the magnificent research work we do, particularly in the field of olive groves and olive oils“, said Juan Gómez.
For his part, Antonio Manzaneda, coordinator of the project has declared: “After more than fifty years of application of intensive agriculture, the environmental situation of many olive groves in the Mediterranean region is quite dramatic in terms of land degradation, impoverishment of biodiversity and loss functionality, which may have already impacted the quality and safety of olive oil. In this sense, this project will carry out the first rigorous diagnosis of the environmental situation of olive grove soils on a large scale, considering the most important areas of olive production in the Mediterranean region and their relations with the olive grove and olive oil quality. Once we have that x-ray, we will propose restoration practices to ensure the health of the soil and obtain sustainably produced olive oils. Because the olive grove will either be sustainable or it will not be”.
Thus, SOIL O-LIVE has as objectives: to analyze the impact of contamination and land degradation on olive grove soils in terms of multi-biodiversity, ecological function at different levels of organization and scales; investigate the relationship of the state of soil health with the quality and safety of olive oil; implement effective soil amendments and ecological restoration practices that promote overt improvements in biodiversity and soil functionality in permanent Mediterranean olive groves in their native range, which should translate into improvements in olive oil quality and safety; define rigorous ecological thresholds that allow the implementation of future clear rules and regulations to design a novel certification for healthy soils in European olive groves.
The project consortium is made up of fifteen academic institutions and two companies in the olive sector. At the national level, the project has, in addition to the UJA, which acts as coordinator, with the participation of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) through three research centers (Zaidín Experimental Station, Institute of Sustainable Agriculture and Aula Experimental Station Dei) and the University of Castilla La Mancha.
At an international level, prestigious institutions participate such as the University of Roma Tre (Italy), the Free University of Berlin (Germany), the University of Tras-Os-Montes e Alto Douro (Portugal), the University of the Aegean (Greece), the Hellenic University of the Mediterranean (Greece), ELGO-DIMITRA (Greece), the University of Silesia in Katowice (Poland), the University of Palermo (Italy), the Italian National Research Council-Bari (CNR), the National School of Agriculture of Meknes (Morocco) and as associated partner the University of Bern (Switzerland). Nutesca S.L. and the multinational company DEOLEO GLOBAL S.A., one of the main marketing companies in the olive oil sector in the world. In addition, the Spanish Agency for Standardization participates as a partner. Finally, SOIL O-LIVE has the backing of the International Olive Council and the support of the European Soil Data Center (ESDAC) of the Joint Research Center of the European Commission.
Project information: https://cordis.europa.eu/project/id/101091255