Andalusia’s regional government has temporarily banned the use of machines to harvest olives at night, according to a report from Jaén’s association of young farmers (ASAJA).
The ban will remain in place until the autonomous community’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Research and Training Institute can conduct a study on the impacts of super-intensive harvesting on local and migrating bird populations.
Upon completion of the study, which is expected in the next week or two, the ministry will make its recommendations before lifting the ban.
Earlier this year, Portugal’s Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests published a report that estimates 2.6 million birds are killed each year during the olive harvesting season in Andalusia.
The birds are killed at night by intensive harvesting machines, which rake and vacuum olives out of the trees. The bright lights used by these machines disorient the birds, which are then unable to escape from the trees and are sucked into the machines.
Some farmers harvest their olives at night while cooler temperatures help to preserve their quality characteristics.