Olivecan, an app to predict the future of the olive tree

Olivecan, an app to predict the future of the olive tree

2019/20/16 - The AGR-119 group of the University of Córdoba (UCO) has participated in the Olive-Miracle European project, led in the Cordovan center by Professor Francisco Villalobos, through which it is intended to optimize management strategies for the cultivation of the olive grove in the Mediterranean Basin.
The project aims to provide tools to evaluate the effectiveness of certain strategies, assist in making investment decisions and predict productivity and the impact that climate change will have on the cultivation of this tree.

According to Villalobos, traditionally, "classical agronomy has obtained information by measuring, interpreting and performing field experiments", although it has been asked what can be done in a future context in which it is not possible to experiment in situ.

For this, the project has developed a simulation model that predicts how trees will grow depending on different variables. The application, called Olivecan, performs simulations of management in different parts of the Mediterranean and is able to predict the success of a particular future crop taking into account parameters such as temperature, wind, precipitation, soil condition or location.

For this reason, the tool, according to Villalobos, will allow to provide a more stringent level of information so that the olive industry can make decisions supported by exhaustive knowledge.

Although the model has been taking place for several decades, according to another of the project's researchers, Luca Testi, "now, through this work, he has reached his majority with a level of complexity and universality that has not been seen before". In fact, the program can also make predictions based on the variety of the olive tree, since "varieties such as Picual or Arbequina do not behave in the same way".

The UCO has indicated that everything seems to indicate that the way in which climate change affects the olive tree will depend a lot on the management conditions. According to Testi, "the answers we have so far seem to be less alarmist than we thought", although the productivity of the olive grove could be diminished by the decrease in rainfall, this could be counteracted by the increase of carbon dioxide in the air , which produces an increase in the speed of photosynthesis, and therefore, in production.

In this sense, Villalobos remarked that future generations will continue to cultivate the olive tree in Andalusia, "although, probably, it will be cultivated in another way". According to the professor, the Andalusian Community is a world power in this sector and its technology in the future will be more than enough to continue producing olive trees profitably.
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