Life+ With the contribution of the LIFE + financial instrument of the European Union
02-10-2023 13:47


Olive culture counts as one of the most significant agricultural activities in Greece, from a financial, social and
ecological point of view. Modern olive culture often includes exhaustive use of the available resources having
as a result adverse effects for production cost, the environment and the quality of produced food.
The significant progress in technology and know-how during the past decades was not able to fully reverse the
situation in the field of plant nutrition. Therefore, reduced performance and high production costs are still a fact
for modern farmers.

The oLIVE CLIMA project addresses a multiplicity of environmental issues:

Carbon dioxide surplus in the air, lost from soil – Erosion & Desertification

The issue is of paramount importance and urgency as an adaptation measure to the threatened
increase of temperature in the arid south Greece, where the olive forest is growing for more
than 5.000 years. Olive trees being evergreen are invaluable to protect soil from erosion and the
subsequent threat of desertification. Soil content in organic carbon is below 1.0 to 1.5% in several
areas of south Greece i.e. reaching the limit for irreversible desertification process.

Nutrients losses are replaced by environmentally damaging inorganic fertilizers

Olive oil production in conditions of low soil organic matter is dependent on high rates of inorganic
fertilizers, among which nitrogen (N) compounds. It should be stressed that olive oil (C18H34O2) does
not contain but only traces of N, P or K, since these elements do not contribute to the structure of
any of its main constituents. It is well established that the field phase is mostly responsible for GHG
emissions during the whole life cycle of olive oil and this is due by large to fertilizers’ production.

Nitrogen losses – Obstacle to the expansion of organic farming

Nitrogen for the Greek environment seems to be the principal limiting factor for the expansion
of organic olive culture, given the scarcity and high cost of those fertilizers that are accepted by
Regulation 834/2007 for organic agriculture.

Wood burning –Toxicological issues and more GHG emissions

Apart from the losses of fixed CO2 wood burning is troublesome as it releases environmentally and
toxicologically active substances (carbon monoxide, benzene and a host of PAHs resulting from
incomplete burning).

Olive Oil Mill Waste Water

Another significant local environmental problem in all olive oil producing areas is the disposal of olive oil mill waste water, causing severe point pollution of soil and water (eutrophication) and emissions of bad odors due to polyphenols in the neighboring area.


The reviewed Common Agricultural Policy sets the introduction of sustainable crop management practices on
top of priorities on a European and national level.
The main aim of the project is to trial the introduction of new cultivation practices for tree crops in order to find
a cost-effective means of mitigating and adapting to climate change. The project will focus specifically on olive-
producing areas in Greece, investigating the potential of these areas to increase carbon sequestration by soils,
and to reduce greenhouse gases emissions. In other words, in this project, a mitigation approach (enhanced
CO2 uptake and reduced CO2 emissions) and an adaptation measure (increased soil quality) are tackled at
the same time.