Lavandin, a close rel­a­tive of laven­der, has been intro­duced in Andalusian olive groves as a com­ple­men­tary crop that can help fight ero­sion, sup­port bio­di­ver­sity and fos­ter sus­tain­able devel­op­ment.

The effort is part of European project, Diverfarming, and has been led by a team from the University of Córdoba, one of Diverfarming’s European part­ners.

The effort is part of the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 project that began almost two years ago and addresses food secu­rity, sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture and sil­vi­cul­ture, bio-​economy, marine research and water man­age­ment.

See more: Olive Tree Cultivation News

One of the pro­jec­t’s main goals is to pur­sue crop diver­si­fi­ca­tion, low input farm­ing and the use of man­age­ment prac­tices that can help improve soil fer­til­ity, pre­vent ero­sion, increase bio­di­ver­sity and pro­mote the per­ma­nence of young peo­ple in rural areas.

Olivares de miel, or honey olives, is a sim­i­lar effort that is tak­ing place out­side of Madrid. It also seeks to pre­vent ero­sion and increase bio­di­ver­sity by plant­ing aro­matic shrubs, includ­ing laven­der.

Erosion, caused by soil loss due to water run-​off dam­age over crop­lands sub­ject to tra­di­tional till­ing, is a prob­lem for olive groves that crop diver­si­fi­ca­tion attempts to min­i­mize. Significant ero­sion and low amounts of organic mat­ter are two of the main causes of run-​off dam­age.

Planting aro­matic shrubs also helps attract ani­mal species to olive groves, which con­tributes to bio­di­ver­sity. Crops, such as lavandin, can also gen­er­ate com­ple­men­tary income for olive grow­ers and mit­i­gate the eco­nomic impacts of poor har­vests and off-​years.

In Andalusia, Diverfarming works with the University of Córdoba to over­see a 7.4‑acre exper­i­men­tal olive grove that is planted with Picual olive trees. Several dif­fer­ent crops have been intro­duced in between the tra­di­tional 12-​by-​12 meter spac­ing of the olive trees, which are located in in Torredelcampo, Jaén.

The University of Córdoba’s research team mon­i­tors the impact of crop diver­si­fi­ca­tion on ero­sion and pro­duc­tiv­ity, along with its envi­ron­men­tal impact and green­house gas seques­tra­tion.

Lavandin is a hybrid of laven­der and spike laven­der, with an aroma more intense than that of laven­der. It was first cul­ti­vated dur­ing the late 1920s and is now grown in many parts of Europe.

It is eas­ier to cul­ti­vate and pro­vides higher yields than laven­der. Lavandin’s costs and yield per acre makes it a prof­itable option for olive grove alleys.

Prior to plant­ing lavandin in the olive groves, the research group vis­ited Brihuega, which is widely con­sid­ered the epi­cen­ter of Spanish laven­der cul­ti­va­tion, to ascer­tain whether it would be suit­able to cul­ti­vate in the olive groves.

The researchers deter­mined that the super and grosso vari­eties were appro­pri­ate for the Andalusian exper­i­men­tal olive grove.

Lavandin oil, often a replace­ment of laven­der oil, is used in per­fumes, hygiene prod­ucts and cos­met­ics. It also works as an insect repel­lent.

Before plant­ing two rows of grosso vari­ety lavandin this spring, the researchers planted saf­fron last autumn. Saffron has gas­tro­nomic and cos­metic appli­ca­tions and its veg­e­ta­tion cover can help hold the land down, min­i­miz­ing the impact of rain over the ter­rain.

Due to their var­i­ous uses, plant­ing lavandin or saf­fron in tra­di­tional olive groves pro­vides farm­ers with addi­tional income as cash crops. Their cul­ti­va­tion can also pro­vide olive grow­ers with access to European Union grants, which are dis­sem­i­nated to farm­ers in the region who prac­tice sus­tain­able agri­cul­tural tech­niques, one of which is pro­mot­ing bio­di­ver­sity.


  • Diario de Córdoba
  • Diverfarming


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