The Operational Group (O.G.) CoverOlive ‘Adoption of ICT and new plant covers adapted to improve the soil and biodiversity of the olive grove’ is a strategic and innovative project whose objective is to develop an advisory system in the management of farms that helps farmers with soil management and native plant covers and with improvement of the biodiversity of their plots. 

The participants are the Andalusian Cooperative Society DCOOP, the Campus of International Agri-Food Excellence (CeiA3), the University of Jaén through the group “Geobotany and palynology: Applications to the natural environment (RNM-350)” and the University of Cordoba with the group “Mechanization and rural technology (AGR-126)”, the consulting firm AGRESTA and the conservationist organization SEO/Birdlife, in collaboration with ‘Fundación Patrimonio Comunal Olivarero’ and Andalusian native seed company (Cantueso Natural Seeds). It is a project financed with European Agricultural Funds for Rural Development (FEADER) and ‘Junta de Andalucía’ in the call for the operation of Regional Operational Groups of the European Innovation Partnership for Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability (EIP AGRI) 2020.

Its progress has been presented in the session ‘Operational Groups: Innovative Projects in the Olive Grove and Olive Oil Sector’ during the XXI Scientific-Technical Symposium within Expoliva, International Fair of Olive Oil and Related Industries. In its opening has participated the manager of the Olive Foundation, Javier Olmedo, and has moderated by the researcher, Sebastián Sánchez Villasclaras, a member of INUO, head of the Bioprocess Engineering Unit, and attached to the Campus of International Excellence Agrifood (CeiA3).

For his part, Juan Antonio Torres Cordero of the group “Geobotany and palynology: Applications to the natural environment (RNM-350)” of the University of Jaén and member of the Ecology Unit of INUO, explained “we have had the opportunity to collect results of some of the tests we have conducted on implementation of native vegetation covers and have been quite satisfactory, since in one of the farms there are high percentages of germination and we have also achieved acceptable coverage“. He also announced that the project is developing an ICT tool that allows the farmer, through a simple interface “to know what are the erosion problems that may present their farm against comprehensive solutions, among which are the vegetation covers“.

On the other hand, Francisco Márquez, researcher attached to the Campus of International Excellence Agroalimentary (CeiA3) of the group “Mechanization and rural technology (AGR-126)” of the University of Cordoba, has indicated that the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) with the development of the eco-schemes bets for the implantation of sustainable management practices in the olive grove. In this sense, he affirms that in the farms with vegetable coversit has been seen how erosion disappears and that, if you have more than 60% of covered surface, the loss of soil is reduced in more than 90% and the runoff in more than 60%”. In addition, he adds that the farmer “not only obtains an improvement in sustainability at the farm level, but at a global level, since these covers cause the soil to become a carbon sink“. In this way, the researcher recalls that with this “we help to reduce the impact of climate change on our society and, in addition, it improves fertility, thus increasing production“. Finally, he concludes by saying that “this will be linked to an improvement in soil protection, therefore, olive growers must have knowledge in the implementation of very fast covers because it has been seen that, with arid climates, the covers compete with olive trees for water in spring and not all types of grasses serve as covers: they should be as native as possible and with little demand for water, through less competition with olive trees“.

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