`Project Helps Growers Prepare for Challenges Posed by Climate Change - Olive Oil Times

Project Helps Growers Prepare for Challenges Posed by Climate Change

Feb. 18, 2021
Paolo DeAndreis

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The first phase of the Med-Gold project is approach­ing com­ple­tion and the results could rev­o­lu­tion­ize how olive grow­ers plan for the future.

The four-year project, which is funded by the European Union and coor­di­nated by the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA), seeks to pro­vide olive, grape and wheat grow­ers with infor­ma­tion that can be used to develop short, inter­me­di­ate and long-term strate­gies to com­bat cli­mate change and pests.

The new MED-GOLD cli­mate ser­vices have what it takes to sub­stan­tially increase the resilience of the farm­ing indus­try to cli­mate change and the many derived chal­lenges posed by a quickly chang­ing cli­mate sce­nario.- Luigi Ponti, researcher, Med-Gold

The project aims at under­stand­ing how pro­duc­ers and grow­ers make their farm­ing deci­sions so the enor­mous amount of cli­mate infor­ma­tion cur­rently avail­able can be tai­lored to their spe­cific needs.

While lots of data about the weather or sea­sonal cli­mate are already avail­able, Med-Gold puts together infor­ma­tion from mul­ti­ple sources focus­ing on short, medium and long peri­ods,” Luigi Ponti, one of the researchers involved in the project and an ENEA agron­o­mist, told Olive Oil Times. This offers a much clearer view of what is hap­pen­ing in terms of cli­mate change or spread­ing of pests such as the olive fruit fly.”

The researchers behind Med-Gold hope that the tool will ulti­mately be use­ful for the entire agri­cul­ture sec­tor, from gov­ern­ment insti­tu­tions and pro­ducer orga­ni­za­tions to indi­vid­ual landown­ers in the Mediterranean basin.

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Luigi Ponti

Using Med-Gold, the researchers hope mem­bers of the sec­tor will bet­ter under­stand the effects of cli­mate change, how it may con­tinue to change in the future and how to seize new oppor­tu­ni­ties.

The goal is to evolve the access, the approach and there­fore the use of infor­ma­tion pro­duced mostly with pub­lic fund­ing by large pro­grams such as Copernicus,” said Ponti, who also works at the Center for Analysis of Sustainable Agroecological Systems. These are data that cur­rently do not always reach the end-users in a way that can impact on their work.”

The new Med-Gold cli­mate ser­vices have what it takes to sub­stan­tially increase the resilience of the farm­ing indus­try to cli­mate change and the many derived chal­lenges posed by a quickly chang­ing cli­mate sce­nario,” he added.

The project’s research phase is now almost com­plete and has enjoyed a high level of coop­er­a­tion from research and com­mer­cial enti­ties in each of the three main crop sec­tors.

See Also: Challenges Await Growers As Mediterranean Basin Becomes Hotter and Drier

Furthermore, all inter­ested orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing farm­ers, coop­er­a­tives and sin­gle agribusi­nesses, can now join the project from its home page and access any nec­es­sary infor­ma­tion.

Not only farm­ers or com­pa­nies, but we also have con­tacts with sev­eral insti­tu­tions that might use Med-Gold cli­mate ser­vices to allo­cate sup­port and recov­ery resources for agri­cul­ture more effi­ciently and stim­u­late the devel­op­ment of resilience strate­gies as cli­mate change con­tin­u­ously alters the fac­tors upon which agri­cul­tural deci­sions are being taken,” Ponti said.

The platform’s core is to trans­form the enor­mous quan­ti­ties of raw cli­matic data into tools that can be used to sup­port impor­tant deci­sion-mak­ing strate­gies.

You can find infor­ma­tion that allows you access to the cli­matic his­tory of your area, where you can study the cli­matic pro­jec­tions over a long period of time,” Ponti said. “[There are] sea­sonal ones as well as bio-cli­matic indexes and data related to bio­log­i­cal risks such as heat­waves or pathogen and pest infes­ta­tions.”

One of the main part­ners of the Med-Gold project is the largest Spanish olive oil coop­er­a­tive, DCOOP, which has said the pro­jec­t’s sea­sonal cli­mate pre­dic­tions had helped it strate­gi­cally mit­i­gate the olive fruit fly impacts.

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Med-Gold reaserchers

The pre­dic­tions allowed the coop­er­a­tive to iden­tify regions at risk of attack from the pest and more pre­cisely tar­get their treat­ments to elim­i­nate the flies dur­ing the early stages of their life­cy­cle.

The Med-Gold data allowed grow­ers to apply treat­ments only when needed, which avoided unnec­es­sary inter­ven­tions and the con­se­quent envi­ron­men­tal dam­age.

Med-Gold’s cli­mate data can also influ­ence short-term deci­sions such as esti­mat­ing frost dam­age, mid-term deci­sions about irri­ga­tion plan­ning and esti­mat­ing olive pro­duc­tion.

See Also: Climate Change Transforming Europe’s Agriculture, Report Finds

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According to Ponti, Med-Gold also has great poten­tial for long-term analy­sis and pro­vides insights to farm­ers to select the areas to grow new trees and the vari­eties that will be best suited to those areas.

Farmers can also use the data to pre­dict new groves’ pro­duc­tiv­ity, pro­vide advice for an ade­quate crop man­age­ment strat­egy and eval­u­ate an invest­ment.

The DCOOP coop­er­a­tive asso­ciates might not directly use the infor­ma­tion to man­age their crops, but their experts in the field and Andalusian gov­ern­ment experts may use Med-Gold to retrieve pre­dic­tions such as the char­ac­ter­is­tics that next years’ har­vest might have,” Ponti said. “[This allows DCOOP] to fore­cast pro­duc­tion fig­ures, which are closely related to mar­ket­ing, sales, prices and so on.”

Ponti added that if Italian pro­duc­ers had Med-Gold avail­able dur­ing the dis­as­trous 2014 har­vest, they might have mit­i­gated the dam­age caused by the bad weather and fruit fly infes­ta­tions.

Ponti urges agri­cul­tural sec­tor mem­bers to begin using Med-Gold now, even as the project is ongo­ing.

We could stop approach­ing what hap­pens with cli­mate change from an emer­gency point of view because that is just how the cli­mate is man­i­fest­ing itself now, which is sig­nif­i­cantly dif­fer­ent from what we were used to 30 years ago,” Ponti said.


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