Determination of farming practices that lead to increased absorption of atmospheric carbon dioxide by plants.
Application of environmentally friendly practices for olive cultivation .
Measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
Providing farmers with methods to improve biodiversity.
The problem: The term “climate change”, is used to refer to global climate change and especially in meteorological changes that occur in long time periods. Climate change is a result of natural causes and human activities. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)* , defines climate change as “a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activities”, differentiating the term from climate variability due to natural causes. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations (IPCC), the global average temperature has increased by 0.6 ± 0.2 ° C since the late 19th century, and this increase is largely due to human activity of the last 50 years. Specifically, this phenomenon is a result of increasing greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions produced by human activity, which change the composition of the atmosphere, a factor that affects the earth’s climate.
Highlights of the project:
Climate Change and Agriculture**: The impact of agriculture on greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions is significant. Agriculture is considered responsible for 14% of global GHG emissions in CO2 equivalents. On top of that, the percentage concerning land use change for its development (deforestation and destruction of grazing), is equivalent to 17 % of global emissions. It is then understood that agriculture plays a very significant role on the climate change phenomenon. On the other hand, climate change is projected to have significant impact on agriculture. It belongs to those sectors that are most affected by the dependence of agricultural production on different weather conditions.
The challenge***: Nowadays, given the unstable climatic conditions of production, agriculture is expected to provide sufficient quantities of products using efficient processes, while at the same time reducing GHG emissions from food production and trading. Concerns about climate change give new impetus to agricultural research for innovative agricultural practices and technologies. Among the legislative proposals of the European Commission, the Common Agricultural Policy for the period 2014-2020 puts emphasis and importance on the role of innovation in order to achieve sustainable development of agriculture and rural areas. In the next decades, the development, dissemination and adoption of innovative agricultural practices and technologies will largely shape the way farmers can contribute to mitigate climate change and adapt their crops accordingly.
The oLIVECLIMA project is an effort to guide the agricultural sector in order to face these challenges by converting olive cultivation to a climate change management tool.
The oLIVECLIMA Project
In olive groves in the prefecture of Heraklion (E.A.S. Peza), Lassithi (E.A.S. Mirabello), and Messinia (O.P. Nileas), olive cultivation practices are applied that contribute to:
Climate change mitigation:
a) by reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions
b) by increasing carbon dioxide capture
Adaptation to new climate conditions:
a) by increasing the fertility and water retention in olive groves soil
b) by strengthening the economic and environmental sustainability of production
The cultivation practices that take place are:
Practices for capturing organic matter derived from either the process of olive growing or olive oil production, in order to return to its groves by:
• Recycling pruning of the trees as mulch and nutrition material
• Utilization of olive oil mill by-products with land application, either directly or after composting
Practical increase of CO2 capture from the atmosphere to plants through photosynthesis and “storage” in plant tissue and soil by:
• Modification of olive groves flora
• Modification of olive trees pruning
Conservation practices of organic matter, through the zero tillage for limiting erosion and destruction of organic matter, and improving the soil water storage capacity.
These practices contribute to long-term “storage” of carbon dioxide in the soil in the form of an increasing percentage of organic matter, improving fertility (e.g. by better retention of water and fertilizers) and reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions.
The new cultivation practices are applied to forty parcels for each pilot area (120 in total) in both irrigated and arid conditions. The effectiveness of the proposed practices in mitigating climate change, their impact on the production of fruit and oil and their viability in technical and economic terms are assessed through a program of samplings and measurements. Moreover, during the next 5 years, special mathematical models will be used to assess the proposed practices and compare them to conventional management practices.
oLIVE CLIMA is funded by 50% by the financial instrument Life + of the European Union and has a total budget of 3.649.373 € (EU contribution 1.822.436 €). It was launched in October 2012 and will be completed in September 2017.
*United Nations framework convention on climate change, United Nations 1992
**Word Development Report 2010 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007)
*** Agricultural Technologies for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in Developing Countries: Policy Options for Innovation and Technology Diffusion, ICTSD