General advantages of using cover crops and floral margins

Pest control for olive trees in the Mediterranean region has been a continuous challenge for thousands of olive farmers. Events of increased pressure are documented periodically with increased frequency, as a result of the adverse weather phenomena caused by climate change. Especially pests such as the olive fruit fly, prays oleae and saissetia oleae, cause significant, and in some cases extended yield damage both in terms of quantity and quality. As a result, olive farmers suffer from serious financial losses, almost every season. In addition, applications with plant protection products (PPPs) can burden the ecosystem, especially if not used appropriately, and further increase costs of olive farming. NOVATERRA partners develop an innovative approach and plot design that will enable olive growers to manage pests naturally through their natural enemies.

By enriching olive groves with floral cover crops and floral margins, farmers can increase local biodiversity by attracting polinators and other beneficial species, such as parasitoids which are natural enemies of olive pests. The increased biodiversity leads to increased interaction complexity, eventually minimizing the potential for increased pest populations. With the right selection of plant species farmers can establish a continuous blooming period, from Spring to Autumn, that will enable consistently satisfactory biodiversity. Finallly, by integrating suitable cover crops farmers can reap additional benefits such as restricting soil erosion and increasing soil capacity for nutrients and humidity.