In recent months, the project “Protection of arthropod biodiversity by improving the inhospitable matrix of the landscape” has been launched as part of the State Research Agency’s call for 2021, within framework of aid for “Strategic Projects Oriented towards Ecological Transition and Digital Transition” in the framework of State Plan for Scientific-Technical Research and Innovation for 2021-2023.
University of Granada is in charge of coordination of project, with the participation of Mario Porcel and Estefanía Rodríguez, researchers from Andalusian Institute for Agricultural, Fisheries, Food and Organic Production Research and Training (IFAPA) in Málaga and “La Mojonera” (Almería). The main objective is to improve and restore the natural biodiversity of arthropods, improving the agricultural matrix in two representative farming systems in southern Spain (Andalusia), olive groves and horticulture.
At the beginning, an assessment is being made of different ecological infrastructures, such as vegetation covers, edges and areas of natural vegetation, characterised by their varying complexity, which allows them to establish multiple connections with well-preserved areas, facilitating the survival of certain arthropods. This project has focused on this group of insects, as they are currently poor in diversity and their presence is important for their contribution to ecosystem systems (pollination, biological control, nutrient cycles, support of trophic networks,…).
Moreover, researchers in charge of project have stated that they hope to highlight benefits that nature can bring to different crops, both in terms of increasing the biodiversity of arthropods and economy of small farmers. In farms under study, where olive groves from Montefrío (Granada) are located, priority will be given to the presence of total or partial plant cover and/or pruning remains incorporated into the soil of the crop. The aim is to improve the poor soils of southern Spain by increasing organic matter, facilitating the assimilation of nutrients and water retention and infiltration. In addition, they point out that, by making the soil more “alive“, biodiversity will be increased, contributing to the biological control of pests and crop diseases.