Agricultural practices focused on climate change mitigation / adaptation, at a tolerable cost
They will result from implementation of various types of interventions under the conditions prevailing in the Greek olive forest. Their potential to increase carbon sequestration and to store it in the soil as soil organic matter, as well as to decrease GHG emission, will be investigated. As side-effects of these practices the following results are expected:
- Methods to relieve the dependence of farmers on inorganic nitrogen fertilization
- Reduction of resource depletion and (fossil) GHG emissions in production phase
- Improved nutrients self-sustainability and lower production cost
- Increased genetic biodiversity & enhancement of the tools available to organic farming
- Better waste management with regard to wood from pruning & Oil Mill Waste Water
A soil carbon dynamics pattern adapted and calibrated locally
It is expected that – using a list of few critical indicators of easily and low cost obtainable parameters – it can show if the practices followed by a farmer lead to a definite amount of soil organic carbon increase in a given number of years, independently of the crop. This could also provide a robust case to support the inclusion of biogenic GHG inputs – outputs in the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) leading to carbon foot-printing and other related market initiatives, as well as for policy makers to consider expanding the Emission Trade System (ETS) to agriculture.
Informed farmers on the potential of their contribution in the climate change mitigation efforts
Well documented training-publicity material in the form of DVDs describing the proposed interventions and their effect on climate change, irrespective of the crop will help to that. It will also focus on farmers training on climate change more generally, so as to increase their sensitization and ability to plan adaptation measures for the anticipated local effects.
The project also has significant socio-economic effects:
Common ground for communication between farmers and consumers
Consumers could appreciate the multiple functions of agriculture, not only as a provider of food, but also as a quencher of carbon dioxide from atmosphere. Olive oil – associated in people’s mind with Mediterranean / healthy eating – and also produced by an olive forest as old as 5000 years can be an ideal messenger of the multiple functions of agriculture.
Product differentiation - No two farms are alike worldwide
The proposed project opens this option of product differentiation on a scientifically solid ground. The design of the project – especially the large number of the “sample” (olive grove parcels) is based on the need to overcome the extremely high variability of farming taking the extreme case of olive culture.
Olive culture – due to its adaptation to quite diverse environments, as well as to the length of time of empirical cultivation, hence ‘exposure’ to differing local practices – has one of the highest scores of agricultural practice variability among crops.
Nutrient self – sufficiency of olive groves
Improvement of environmental performance through increase of carbon sequestration has a definite side effect of increase of soil organic matter, hence better retention of water and nutrients contributing so to improved soil fertility, thus soil productivity. The interventions that are planned as part of the proposed project aim to the nutrient self sufficiency of the olive groves, i.e. less dependence on inorganic fertilizers. Taking in account the high cost of (natural gas intermediated) nitrogen fertilizers the result of the interventions are expected to lead to lower cost per hectare.