In October, a collaboration agreement was signed between US multinational Alltech® Crop Science Iberia and “Los Pedroches” Olive Growers’ Cooperative (OLIPE) in ‘Córdoba’, at the headquarters of Business Confederation (CECO) in ‘Córdoba’. This agreement will enhance sustainability of mountain olive grove of “Los Pedroches“ with a multidisciplinary strategy of production process that will include research into state of agricultural soils and characteristics of trees, as well as marketing of Virgin Olive Oils of this cooperative based in ‘Pozoblanco-Córdoba’ (Spain).
Pedro Navarro, manager of Alltech® Crop Science Iberia, and Bartolomé Carrillo, president of OLIPE, agree to improve the positioning of cooperative’s brand worldwide. They intend to develop innovative models to increase the quality and quantity of Conventional, Organic and Biodynamic Virgin Olive Oils produced in this cooperative, to revalue the organic compost produced from olive mill waste and to implement innovative technological tools to preserve and conserve the soil.
The agreement is signed for five years and includes transfer of knowledge to olive growers, explanation of experimental processes to be carried out on farms of those partners who decide to sign up and, finally, dissemination of results obtained on farms. In this agreement, Alltech® Crop Science Iberia, together with technical support of ‘Ideagro’, undertakes to cover costs of experimentation and monitoring processes, as well as purchase of batches of Virgin Olive Oils from this cooperative for its distribution in different parts of world. For its part, OLIPE will provide the farms registered for this study, the cost of initial measurements and will invest benefits of this project in organising training and knowledge transfer activities based on social sustainability that will enable it to retain the young population in “Los Pedroches” region.
During the development of this project, the aim is to carry out a zoning of mountain olive grove in order to identify the most productive areas by taking samples to identify which microbiological agents are responsible for high levels of production. The microbiological agents common in the most productive olive groves will then be identified, isolated and reproduced for inoculation in those olive trees with lower production, in order to boost productivity in less productive areas. At the same time, measurements will be taken of flow of CO2 emitted by soil in order to evaluate the impact of these actions, in addition to improving the crop at an agronomic level and increasing soil’s capacity as a sink.
In this sense, Pedro Navarro stresses that “in Spain, the olive grove sector is a key element for economic and social development and, therefore, we are at an ideal moment to contribute to necessary transformations that guarantee its sustainability and conservation“. On the other hand, he adds that “this project reinforces the company’s guiding principle and our commitment to environment, promoting innovation to improve the profitability and sustainability of olive grove. It also provides an excellent opportunity to showcase benefits that use of Alltech® Crop Science Iberia technologies can bring to agriculture. In fact, with proper use and management, soil fertility is improved and better use is made of natural resources, increasing production yields and oil quality“.
Similarly, president of OLIPE, Bartolomé Carrillo, referred to the fact that the proposed objectives will contribute to improving environmental, economic and social conditions of mountain olive grove. “We hope that this type of action will help to make this crop more attractive to young people, to make generational renewal possible, bearing in mind that we are working with one of the world’s leading agricultural companies” he said, adding that “olive growers in mountain areas are going through a chronic crisis, which is not cyclical because of current economic situation, which is not caused by drought or bad harvests, but rather we have problems derived from high production costs that are difficult to reverse if we do not transmit our values to society and generate added value that allows us to make our farms sustainable“. Finally, he concludes by saying “we hope that path, we are embarking on today, will have a positive impact on territory and that it will be appreciated that we are at the forefront of olive grove, and not only because of agreement we are signing today, but also because OLIPE has already been innovating for years in organic and biodynamic production and in transformation of an oil of such high quality that we sell to the best cosmetic brands in the world, due to its exceptional healthy characteristics, derived from its high polyphenol content, which is above average“.
In short, this agreement aims to develop one of the most innovative models based on the analysis of olive grove soils managed by members of “Los Pedroches” Olive Growers’ Cooperative, located in the southern part of the municipalities of ‘Pozoblanco’, ‘Villanueva de Córdoba’, ‘Alcarecejos’ and ‘Añora’ in province of ‘Córdoba’, which are characterised by their steep slopes and unevenness, with heterogeneous soils, geographical configuration and climatic conditions.