New Research to Study Impact of Soil Health on Olive Oil Quality

The project seeks to better understand how olive growing affects soil biodiversity and ecological function and how soil health affects olive oil quality and safety.
By Paolo DeAndreis
Dec. 8, 2022 14:42 UTC

The first sig­nif­i­cant inves­ti­ga­tion on the soil qual­ity of olive groves across the Mediterranean basin has been under­taken by a group of European research insti­tu­tions and large olive oil pro­duc­ers.

Backed by the European Union, the Soil O‑live project will ana­lyze the impact of land degra­da­tion and pol­lu­tion on olive groves over the next five years.

The project will also inves­ti­gate the impact of olive groves on bio­di­ver­sity and eco­log­i­cal func­tion and study the link between soil and olive oil qual­ity and safety.

See Also:New Tool Measures Soil-Atmosphere Interactions to Optimize Farming Practices

The E.U. and the University of Jaén, which is coor­di­nat­ing the ini­tia­tive, have signed the €7 mil­lion research agree­ment, which is part of the Horizon E.U. research pro­grams.

After more than 50 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 and func­tion­al­ity loss, which may have already impacted the qual­ity and safety of olive oil, one of the most impor­tant com­modi­ties pro­duced in Europe,” the project intro­duc­tion reads.

By deploy­ing a multi-dis­ci­pli­nary approach extended to all sig­nif­i­cant olive-pro­duc­ing coun­tries, the project will per­form the first rig­or­ous diag­nos­tic of the envi­ron­men­tal sit­u­a­tion of olive grove soils at a broad scale, con­sid­er­ing the most impor­tant areas of olive pro­duc­tion in the Mediterranean region and its rela­tion­ships to olive oil qual­ity.”

Assessing soil qual­ity and the ten­den­cies asso­ci­ated with inten­sive agri­cul­ture are con­sid­ered cru­cial for their impact on food sys­tems and food secu­rity.

The sub­se­quent steps of the Soil O‑live project will focus on restor­ing soil and eco­log­i­cal func­tion, fos­ter­ing bio­di­ver­sity and improv­ing the olive grove health through­out the region. Its sup­port­ers believe these steps will trans­late into an improve­ment for the final prod­uct.

The last step of the research will cen­ter on the def­i­n­i­tion of rig­or­ous eco­log­i­cal thresh­olds that allow imple­ment­ing future clear norms and reg­u­la­tions to design a novel cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for healthy soils in European olive groves.”

The project will bring together researchers from sev­eral fields of inves­ti­ga­tion, such as envi­ron­men­tal sci­ences, bio­log­i­cal sci­ences and ecol­ogy, agri­cul­ture and forestry.

Apart from the olive and olive oil research depart­ment at the University of Jaén, dozens of research insti­tu­tions from Portugal, Italy, Greece, Poland, Germany, Switzerland and Morocco will also par­tic­i­pate in the project.

Deoleo, the world’s largest olive oil-pro­duc­ing and bot­tling com­pany, is also par­tic­i­pat­ing in the inves­ti­ga­tion.


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