Start Up's Technology Helps Olive Farmers Cut Costs, Increase Production

The founders of Elaisian say their technology reduced the costs of fertilizers, agronomic consultancy fees, and labor by 50 percent in tests.

Mar. 28, 2017
By Julie Al-Zoubi

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Italian olive trees joined the inter­net of things last year when elec­tronic devices took root in their olive groves and began com­mu­ni­cat­ing real-time data via Wi-Fi, to a plat­form devel­oped to help olive pro­duc­ers cut costs and increase their yields.

It is essen­tial for us to defend and to advance an asset as valu­able as extra vir­gin olive oil.- Giovanni Di Mambro, Elaisian

Elaisian founders Giovanni Di Mambro, Damiano Angelici and Gabriele Allegrini came up with their high-tech solu­tion for olive farm­ers last sum­mer. The trio com­pleted their first pro­to­type in August and went on to found the com­pany in November.

Angelici told Italy Europe 24, I come from a fam­ily that has been work­ing in the olive-grow­ing sec­tor for over 80 years and after the umpteenth lost crop, I decided I’d try and solve the prob­lem.”

In tests, Elaisian’s tech­nol­ogy reduced the costs of fer­til­iz­ers, agro­nomic con­sul­tancy fees, and labor by 50 per­cent. Di Mambro told Olive Oil Times, We made the first test in Sabina, land of olive trees, near Rome.” He added, We did the research thanks to our agron­o­mist and thanks to the University of Perugia that helped us with some stud­ies.”

Remote, real-time mon­i­tor­ing of olive trees was made pos­si­ble by the startup’s small elec­tronic devices. One device on a cen­tral tree in an olive grove mon­i­tors around 500 trees in a 2‑hectare grove. The com­pany offers free devices to farm­ers who sign up for their ser­vice.

Di Mambro told Olive Oil Times, The devices don’t have a name. They are com­posed of a lot of sen­sors in order to col­lect cli­ma­to­log­i­cal data, chloro­phyll and soil com­po­nents.”

Service costs depend on the size of the grove. Elaisian’s user plat­form gives olive pro­duc­ers access to real-time infor­ma­tion on the sta­tus of their trees and offers advice as to any action needed. Communication to farm­ers is via text mes­sage and email.

Elaisian’s devices gather cli­ma­to­log­i­cal data includ­ing rain­fall, humid­ity lev­els, tem­per­a­ture and ana­lyze chloro­phyll and beta-carotene lev­els. The data is trans­mit­ted via Wi-Fi to the company’s plat­form, where it is sci­en­tif­i­cally ana­lyzed. An algo­rithm is devel­oped by cross-ref­er­enc­ing the data received, against agro­nomic data pro­duced in part­ner­ship with Perugia University.

Farmers receive sci­ence-based advice on opti­miz­ing irri­ga­tion and the effec­tive use of fer­til­iz­ers. They are also alerted to nutri­tional defi­cien­cies, attacks by pathogens and any stress the trees are expe­ri­enc­ing. The founders say the sys­tem pre-warns farm­ers of impend­ing dis­eases and enables faster treat­ment when dis­ease strikes.

Di Mambro told Olive Oil Times Four pro­duc­ers are using the sys­tem and 16 oth­ers have paid us to receive it.” He added, We have already signed other agree­ments for exam­ple with Fattoria Ramerino, Olio Torretta, Madonna dell’Olivo and Olio Barnaba.”

Our goal is to mon­i­tor and pro­tect all olive trees present in the world because they are a resource to be pro­tected. Supporting tech­nol­ogy in the agri­cul­tural sec­tor can achieve impor­tant goals like that of max­i­miz­ing pro­duc­tion and improv­ing processes of cul­ti­va­tion for each olive oil pro­ducer. It is essen­tial for us to defend and to advance an asset as valu­able as extra vir­gin olive oil.”

Elaisian’s plan for the future is to get more major Italian pro­duc­ers on board, then intro­duce their tech­nol­ogy to the Spanish mar­ket.

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