Jump to Main Content
Olive orchard design and mechanization: present and future
- Tous, J., Romero, A., Hermoso, J. F., Msallem, M., Larbi, A.
- Acta horticulturae 2014 no.1057 pp. 231-246
- consultants, cultivars, economic sustainability, harvesting, information sources, interviews, mechanization, microirrigation, oils, olives, orchards, planting, production costs, questionnaires, researchers, social impact, trees, wages and remuneration, Argentina, Chile, Portugal, Spain, Tunisia
- Diverse olive plantation systems are utilised throughout the Mediterranean and other world growing areas, especially in sloping, mountainous and flat areas. Recent important changes (1980s and 1990s), including the widespread introduction of new orchard designs related to harvest mechanisation, increased use of inputs (particularly chemical) and drip irrigation have considerably contributed to this diversity and these changes also influenced the oil quantity and quality. The various planting systems have very different performances regarding the economical viability and the environmental and social impact. This study describes the current and future situation of olive orchard designs, some cultural practices, mechanization and production costs of different olive growing areas of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres (Mediterranean Basin and South America). The data in this study are taken from different alternative sources, such as bibliographic review, questionnaire and personal interviews addressed to researchers and consultants of different countries. These valuable information sources allowed the gathering of knowledge on the aspects involved in the orchard design (cultivars, training, densities, mechanization and yield potential), production costs and oil quality from three alternative production systems: intensive orchards (IS, 200-400 trees/ha), high-density orchards (HD, 400-700 trees/ha) and super-high-density orchards (SHD, over 1,500 trees/ha). The ecological, agronomic and cost assessment of these planting systems are compared between different orchard types from Spain (Andalusia and Catalonia), Portugal (Alentejo-Beja), Tunisia, Argentina (La Rioja and San Juan provinces) and Chile (regions III, IV and VII). A comparative study of three modern design orchards (IS, HD and SHD), growing in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, reveals differences between countries in the following variables: investment costs, economic life, yield potential, cultural and harvest costs and labour use. However, the planting model choice in each region depends on different factors such as ecological conditions, orchard size, manpower availability and the economic life investment.