Olive tree, nutritional deficiencies are discovered with drone

Among the causes of insufficient competitivenessextra virgin olive oil Italian in international markets are certainly high production costs and low productivity per unit area. Among the tools aimed at improving this last aspect are: defense improvement against fungal diseases and insects, especially the olive fly, and also one balanced nutrition able to support the production potential of plants.

Just to improve the defense and nutrition of the olive tree Gal Terre del Primitivo (a consortium company with limited liability established in 2003 for the purpose of implementing the local development plan of the same name within the Community Program Leader +) prepared as part of the directly managed intervention B5.2 – Psr 2014-2020 olive Garden in the village of Avetrana (Ta), where the most modern precision farming techniques were implemented.

“The range the last is to check if modern innovation are capable of producing tangible benefits for olive growers”explains Salvatore Attanasioagronomist consultant for Gal Terre del Primitivo.

“TH sensors were installed during 2023 and in the following years we will be able to collect data and control the system with precision. If the experimentation leads to positive results, the test field becomes one display window for all olive growers in the area who will be inspired to change the way they manage their olive groves”.

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Drones, Guardians of the Sky

L’precision agriculture it is based on the ability to manage the field through timely decisions based on data collected in the field. Source of information experimented Gal Terre del Primitivo’s use drones equipped multispectral cameras capable of capturing the different wavelengths of sunlight reflected by the leaves of olive trees. By analyzing such data, it is thus possible to develop vegetation indices, such asNdvi, which offers an excellent estimate of plant vitality. But not only.

“We are also able to detect, thanks to the algorithms we have developed internally water stress AND nutritional deficienciessuch as nitrogen or potassium, based on detections made by multispectral cameras’points out Raffaele Ranierifounder SkyDrone360a company specialized in the provision of precision agricultural services based on the use of drones, entrusted Gal Terre del Primitivo with the task of monitoring an exemplary olive grove.

Map for identifying nutritional deficiencies of potassium

Map for identifying nutritional deficiencies of potassium

(Photo source: Salvatore Attanasio, agronomist consultant Gal Terre del Primitivo)

Once you have identified nutritional deficienciesthe farmer can subsequently intervene with targeted fertilizing, having as objective fully satisfy nutritional needs olive tree without wasting the product. In this way, it is possible to maximize the relationship between agronomic inputs and the amount of olives produced.

A similar argument can be used for water source. If in the past it was believed that the olive tree is a plant that is not particularly demanding in terms of water, today we know that in order to achieve a satisfactory production, it is necessary to provide the plants with the right amount of water, especially at critical moments such as flowering.

“To date, we have carried out several surveys with a drone in the experimental olive grove of Avetrana and developed data to produce gods news which are useful for farmers to better manage the system’emphasizes Ranieri.

Even the defense against the olive fly is becoming smart

Another line of intervention concerns the defense of the olive tree of Bactrocera oleaea major crop pest, capable of causing serious damage to the productivity of olive groves.

In this case, some were installed in the field clever traps, capable of autonomously taking photos of sticky panels on which fly adults are stuck. These images are then loaded from the trap into a cloud application and are available for consultation from technicians and farmers.

A clever trap present in the olive grove

A clever trap present in the olive grove

(Photo source: Gal Terre del Primitivo)

The next step is to apply some to these photos image recognition algorithms capable of distinguishing olive tree adults from other captured insects and evaluating their numbers. A technician who finds himself in a situation where he has to manage several olive groves does not have to go to the field verify catchesbut by looking at the information provided by the system you can evaluate the pressure level of the fly.

“The data provided through this service is certainly useful, but it is always necessary to carry out on-the-spot checks for drupe sampling in order to evaluate the actual presence of bites or fallopian tube larvae”clarifies Attanasio.

Olive cultivation also needs innovation

Use weather smart cabinsOf drones az sensors in this area, it has the potential to enable a new approach to olive cultivation, aimed at maximizing production and reducing the sector’s ecological footprint.

Also in this contextEuropean Union supports this path of change. L’current Common agricultural policy (pac) provides specific funding for the sector, as does the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (Pnrr). L’objective it must be to maintain the current level of quality recognized throughout the world and at the same time to improve productivity olive groves and felling waste Hello costs production.

Initiatives similar to what they are doing Gal Terre del Primitivo they are interesting demonstrations that show local communities the potential of the digital tools available today. Tools, of which there are more and more accurate and affordablewhich, however, still find little space in the national context of olive cultivation.

Read also All the uses of drones that make olive farming smart

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