Olive harvest 1755121 web

Summary of the advanced online course on olive growing and climate change organized by CIHEAM Zaragoza and the International Olive Council (IOC)

14 October 2021

CIHEAM Zaragoza and the International Olive Council (IOC), organized the advanced online course “Olive Growing and Climate Change” from 27 September to 1 October.

The subject of the course was of great interest and attracted a large number of applications (124) from 26 countries in Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia. Seventy six professionals from public institutions, universities, research centres and private companies (Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Georgia, Greece, Iran, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, Palestine, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, United States and Uruguay) were selected to participate in the course.

The course was divided into 5 sessions transmitted live via the Zoom platform. Twenty two experts from universities, research centres, consultancy firms and international bodies in different countries delivered lectures on various topics related to olive growing and the impact of climate change. There were sessions on the current situation of olive growing and on the scientific evidence of climate change and future projections for the Mediterranean regions as well as aspects of climate change related specifically to olive growing (phenology, physiology, pests and diseases and adaptation in different environments). The participants became familiar with the process-based model OliveCan and use of models to predict flowering and production within the context of climate change.

The course began with a presentation of IOC and CIHEAM Zaragoza, the organizing institutions of the course. The scientific coordinator of the course Helder Fraga from UTAD in Portugal, presented the programme and lecturers during the ‘Class 0’ session. The following week, on the first day of the course, the IOC representative Catarina Bairrao spoke of the current situation and prospects for olive growing in a climate change scenario. Dr Joao Santos presented the latest scientific evidence of climate change and the projections for the Mediterranean area.

Several lectures were delivered on how climate change affected the biophysical aspects of the olive grove. The part addressing phenology was given between 3 lecturers (Drs Fabio Orlandi from the Università degli Studi di Perugia in Italy, Ali Ben Dhiab from the Institut de l’Olivier, Tunisia, and José Antonio Oteros from the University of Cordoba in Spain). The topic on evapotranspiration, water use efficiency and water balance and yield was addressed by Dr Luca Testi from IAS-CSIC, Cordoba. Use of sensors to characterize olive groves is a very important aspect in the use of models as tools to understand processes and interactions, and was explained by Dr Ignacio Lorite from IFAPA in Cordoba. Giora Ben Ari from the Volcani Center in Israel spoke about olive product quality and Dr Paula Baptista from the CIMO centre in Portugal spoke about pests and diseases.

Regarding the mitigation of climate change, Antonio Montilla from the firm CO2 Consulting in Cordoba presented the environmental assessment and carbon footprint analysis. Dr Georgios Koubouris from ELGO DIMITRA, Greece spoke about carbon sequestration and good climate-change mitigation practices.

As for adaptation of olive growing to climate change, Dr Javier Hidalgo from IFAPA, Cordoba, spoke of irrigation management and pruning severity in olive trees. Also from IFAPA, Dr Milagros Saavedra explained the importance of cover crops in olive groves. As far as the adaptation of varieties is concerned, Dr Carlos Trapero of the University of Cordoba spoke about the selection and improvement of adapted varieties and Dr Mariela Torres from INTA Argentina addressed the adaptation of varieties selected for new olive growing areas.

Case studies were also presented. Dr Jesús Rojo of the Complutense University of Madrid explained the use of models to predict flowering and production in the context of global warming and ran an exercise with R Studio. Dr Álvaro López-Bernal from the University of Cordoba presented the OliveCan model and Dr Ignacio Lorite addressed the integration of experimentation and modelling to assess the impacts of climate change in southern Spain. In the last two case studies Dr Helder Fraga presented a simulation of olive yield in areas of southern Europe in different climate change scenarios and Dr Takeyasu Kubota of the Shozu Olive Research Institute of Japan presented the challenges for adaptation of olive growing in new climates.

The course ended with a round table discussion that addressed the local, regional and national adaptation and mitigation measures as well as international coordination measures. The participants were requested to prepare, before the beginning of the course, a brief document on the initiatives of mitigation and adaptation to climate change in the olive groves of their specific regions. Besides sharing these documents among participants and lecturers, the round table provided the opportunity for participants to make brief presentations. There were also general questions on the course to encourage debate and make the session as dynamic as possible.