Europe Inaugurates Climate Dashboard for Olive, Grape and Wheat Farmers

The new dashboard will provide short-term weather and long-term climate data to help farmers plant new groves, anticipate future challenges and prepare better for pests and diseases.

May. 4, 2022
By Paolo DeAndreis

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After four years, the European Union’s Med-Gold project has been com­pleted, and the data is now pub­licly avail­able.

Small, medium and large farm­ers and olive grow­ers through­out the Mediterranean region now have access to a vast vol­ume of data on cli­mate, weather, dis­eases, expected pro­duc­tiv­ity and farm­ing strate­gies from mul­ti­ple author­i­ta­tive sources.

An effi­cient cli­mate ser­vice sup­ports deci­sions and adap­ta­tion actions, cur­tails risks, improves resilience, and, when pos­si­ble, trans­forms cli­mate change into oppor­tu­nity.- Alessandro Dell’Aquila, ENEA researcher

This infor­ma­tion, avail­able on a sea­sonal basis and as long-term pro­jec­tions, may also allow entire pro­duc­tion chains to invest in improve­ments and pol­i­cy­mak­ers to tar­get inter­ven­tions bet­ter.

The Med-Gold dash­board, which allows farm­ers to par­tic­i­pate in the Med-Gold com­mu­nity and use Med-Gold cli­mate ser­vices, is a tech­no­log­i­cal and strate­gic answer to the chal­lenges posed by cli­mate change in the region.

See Also:Time Running Out to Prevent Worst Impacts of Climate Change, U.N. Says

The new tools devel­oped by the Med-Gold com­mu­nity, with the col­lab­o­ra­tion of European agri-food com­pa­nies and tech­no­log­i­cal experts, might greatly enhance the abil­ity of farm­ers to mit­i­gate the effects of cli­mate vari­abil­ity and to adapt to cli­mate change,” Luigi Ponti, a researcher at the Casaccia Research Center of the Italian Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Development (ENEA) and mem­ber of the Med-Gold sci­en­tific coor­di­na­tion team, told Olive Oil Times.

ENEA has also acted as project coor­di­na­tor bring­ing together agri­cul­tural researchers, cli­ma­tol­o­gists and com­puter sci­en­tists.

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According to its cre­ators, one of Med-Gold’s most sig­nif­i­cant achieve­ments is pro­vid­ing cli­mate ser­vices focused on farm­ers’ land, allow­ing them to view pre­cise sea­sonal fore­casts and long-term cli­mate pro­jec­tions.

An effi­cient cli­mate ser­vice sup­ports deci­sions and adap­ta­tion actions, cur­tails risks, improves resilience, and, when pos­si­ble, trans­forms cli­mate change into oppor­tu­nity,” said Alessandro Dell’Aquila, an ENEA researcher and mem­ber of the sci­en­tific coor­di­nat­ing team. Med-Gold ser­vices not only aim at bet­ter yields but also improve sus­tain­abil­ity.”

This means that olive farm­ers can pre­dict pest or dis­ease out­breaks more accu­rately and quickly tar­get treat­ments or pre-emp­tive mit­i­ga­tion strate­gies. They can also esti­mate the cur­rent sea­son’s pro­duc­tion poten­tial and know when to deploy fer­til­izer or irri­ga­tion inter­ven­tions in their groves.

Farmers may deter­mine how pro­duc­tive a spe­cific area will be in the next 20 or 30 years or which kind of pathogens may be expected in the long term.

They can also know which olive vari­eties are expected to per­form bet­ter at given lat­i­tudes or alti­tudes or how cli­mate con­di­tions will affect the new trees, inform­ing their deci­sion on how to plan the new groves.

The dash­board will also pro­vide olive farm­ers with infor­ma­tion about how pro­duc­tive their groves may be in the future com­pared to the present and whether rain­fed groves may require irri­ga­tion.

The new tools not only sus­tain cli­mate adap­ta­tion strate­gies but also pave the way to build on oppor­tu­ni­ties trig­gered by weather events caused by cli­mate change,” Ponti said.

One such exam­ple is short-term heat­waves,” he added. When they occur in spe­cific peri­ods of the grow­ing sea­son, their effect on an olive grove can be likened to a spe­cific treat­ment against the olive fruit fly, which can­not stand tem­per­a­tures above a cer­tain level for more than a few days.”

Knowing when such heat­waves might hit can offer new plan­ning oppor­tu­ni­ties to farm­ers.

According to the tech­no­log­i­cal part­ner of Med-Gold, Lutech, the heart of the project is to trans­form cli­mate data into pro­jec­tions, trends, eco­nom­i­cal analy­sis, good prac­tices and advice, inno­v­a­tive solu­tions and other ser­vices con­nected to the cli­mate that can be use­ful for soci­ety as a whole.”

In a note, Lutech explained how the tech­no­log­i­cal plat­form con­sid­ers the needs and con­tri­bu­tions of many dif­fer­ent users, the speci­fici­ties of mul­ti­ple data and resources and the added value cre­ated by the users’ par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Med-Gold com­mu­nity.

During a two-day pre­sen­ta­tion of the Med-Gold dash­board, researchers, com­mu­nity mem­bers and agri­food experts explored the new tools with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of sev­eral insti­tu­tions, includ­ing the International Olive Council and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

The unique cli­mate trends and the preva­lence of olives, wine and cere­als were cited as the rea­sons for inau­gu­rat­ing the project in the Mediterranean basin.

Experts believe that the region con­sti­tutes a cli­mate hotspot, where cli­mate change phe­nom­ena might fol­low dif­fer­ent or even accel­er­ated paths com­pared to other areas.

What cli­ma­tol­o­gists have dis­cov­ered is that south­ern Europe is a very spe­cific cli­matic hotspot, where cli­mate change effects are espe­cially evi­dent and hap­pen more quickly than else­where,” Gianmaria Sannino, an oceanog­ra­pher and direc­tor of the cli­mate mod­el­ing and impact lab at ENEA, told Olive Oil Times in a September 2021 inter­view.

Ponti also empha­sized how the strong inter­est shown by sev­eral inter­na­tional orga­ni­za­tions is related to the unique con­di­tions of the Mediterranean basin, which is expe­ri­enc­ing a range of dif­fer­ent con­se­quences as a result of cli­mate change.

It is also a bio­di­ver­sity hotspot at a bio-cul­tural level, which means ecosys­tems diver­sity and how they inter­con­nect with what the human species has done through mil­len­nia,” Ponti said. It means socio-eco­nomic diver­sity and how resources have been used and reached a crit­i­cal level of exploita­tion, which is how the many dif­fer­ent civ­i­liza­tions that inhabit a nar­row strip around the Mediterranean Sea have acted.”

On top of that, the region’s tran­si­tional cli­mate between a trop­i­cal and tem­per­ate cli­mate must be con­sid­ered, so that any bal­ance is very uncer­tain and frag­ile,” he added.

That is the rea­son olives, wine and cere­als are the three start­ing fields of appli­ca­tion that Med-Gold devel­op­ers have been focus­ing on to develop new tools to enhance their resilience to cli­mate change.

Med-Gold experts have met with many dif­fer­ent stake­hold­ers of other sec­tors not directly involved in devel­op­ing the new tools through a series of work­shops.

They all told us how rel­e­vant it is for these new means to enter the field as a stan­dard for pro­duc­tion, just has it hap­pened with many other things, such as the inte­grated phy­tophagous pest man­age­ment,” Ponti said.

When well imple­mented and based on solid sci­en­tific research, pro­duc­tion stan­dards can effec­tively design the path for an agri­cul­tural sec­tor,” he added. Should they become more a part of olive grow­ing, it would be very pos­i­tive.”

Ponti also empha­sized how rel­e­vant the pos­si­bil­ity of tar­get­ing the new ser­vices to the end-user’s spe­cific needs is. These end-users become part of the com­mu­nity and add value by par­tic­i­pat­ing in the plat­form, adding their own data points.

While any stake­holder can eas­ily access the Med-Gold com­mu­nity, the project work­shops have shown how pro­duc­ers’ orga­ni­za­tions and farm­ers’ asso­ci­a­tions in the olive sec­tor can play a piv­otal role by intro­duc­ing grow­ers to the dash­board and offer­ing tech­ni­cal expe­ri­ence and guid­ance to sup­port their full inte­gra­tion of the new cli­mate ser­vices.

As it emerged dur­ing our last two-day meet­ing, while it is rel­e­vant to deploy the new means for the cur­rent farm­ing prac­tice, it is also equally rel­e­vant to work on edu­ca­tion and train­ing,” Ponti said.

The idea is to bring the new tools and the ones that could be fur­ther devel­oped to the next gen­er­a­tion of farm­ers.

If tomor­row’s farm­ers are open to fully using the avail­able infor­ma­tion, they will prob­a­bly inte­grate this approach into their nor­mal work, with no need to wait for a cli­mate dis­as­ter to start say­ing that all of this can be use­ful,” Ponti con­cluded.



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