the most sustainable olive growing system
EVOO Oleo Estrella Integrated Production
Integrated production in the olive grove is an agricultural production system that guarantees the highest quality of the product, while also respecting the environment as much as possible.
Benefits of integrated production
The fundamental pillars on which integrated production is based are:
- The protection of the environment. Making rational use of phytosanitary products favors the creation and sustainability of biodiversity.
- The quality of the product, as the integrated production seal certifies that this oil is Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), of course, the highest category.
- Food health, given that fewer chemical substances are used, there is less alteration in the properties of the oil.
The advantages in adopting integrated production techniques are countless. In addition, this system not only positively interferes with the quality of the oil itself, but many parties benefit from opting of this cultivation method:
Environment Integrated production rationalizes the use of natural resources, reduces and optimizes the use of chemical products, reduces land erosion and improves land fertility. It also advances the sustainability of the agricultural ecosystem, protects and encourages native flora and fauna and improves the maintenance of the rural environment.
When buying an EVOO with the integrated production stamp, the consumers know that they are acquiring a high quality product that has undergone rigorous tracing throughout the process of production. In addition, environmentally friendly techniques have been used. It should not be forgotten that additionally, the integrated production labeling identifies the oil and differentiates it from the rest.
By implementing an integrated production system, farmers are increasing the value of their olive oil, which in the future will bring them greater benefits. Similarly, by rationalizing the means of production and reducing the use of products, the profitability of the farms are improved. On the other hand, producers have technical advice available that improves the entire process and the result obtained in their olive oil.
This is a before and after example of land with vegetation cover in the olive grove with integrated production treatment. Before and after applying the brush cutting technique.
How is integrated production carried out?
Farmers to apply integrated production in their olive grove have to belong to an Integrated Production Association, commonly known as API. In it, one or more agricultural technicians advise producers and continuously train and update them about the best way to manage their olive farm. They do this at the same time as they control compliance with specific regulations.
Integrated production is a quality brand of the Junta de Andalucía, as the regulation followed by the APIs is drawn up from there, and stays within the framework of the general provisions that exist at the national level. The Junta de Andalucia obliges the APIs to divulge the information on the control of pests and diseases of the olive grove in a database, keeping a record of the status and changes that plant may have.
Being part of the API ensures the farmers that when they carry out a treatment in their olive grove, it is justified by the advice of specialist technicians. This means that, for example, these agricultural experts, when carrying out their samplings in the field, can verify if or when the threshold of a pest has been exceeded. If this is the case, they are justified to treat it.
On the contrary, if the numbers show that there is not enough pest level to make treatment, the farmers will not put a series of unnecessary products in their olive grove, which directly benefits the product and ultimately affects his bottom line. Thus, we can affirm that integrated production proverbs both savings, and a more sustainable form of cultivation.
Integrated production and integrated pest management
Integrated production is a voluntary farming system. Farmers can decide whether to do it or not. However, since 2012, Real Decreto 1311/2012, which establishes the framework of action to achieve a sustainable use of phytosanitary products, farmers with plots of more than 5 hectares (12.35 acres) are required to have a technician to manage their farm. The olive growers with less than 5 hectares of cultivation are required to perform integrated pest management.
The purpose of integrated pest management is the development of healthy crops with the least amount of change to agroecosystems and also the promotion of natural pest control mechanisms. We can observe, therefore, that the purpose of both agricultural production systems are the same: to care for, conserve and preserve the environment.
Despite the benefits that we can see in the use of integrated production techniques or integrated pest management, many olive growers continue to opt for customary treatments. They often are exploited, and don’t have control of the conditions of their farm.
When producers receive some type of subsidy related to their olive farm, they have to follow conditions of conditionality. These provisions are not too far removed from integrated production, but the great difference between any crop management system and integrated production is the continuous and constant technical support that the farmer receives in each and every step of the process.
An example is the artificial lagoon on integrated production plots in the area of the olive groves in Navas de San Juan. It contributes to maintaining the biodiversity of the fauna, which is favorable to the soil.
EVOO of integrated production
Finding the stamp of integrated production on a bottle of oil ensures that it comes only and exclusively from plots that use this cultivation system. This guarantees us exceptional physical-chemical, organoleptic and sensory qualities.
At the Oleo Estrella Cooperative, more than half of our farmers have already implemented integrated production. During the harvest season, when the harvesters arrive at the weighing scale, the olives that come from plots with integrated production are divided, and go through separate lines from the rest of the olives. Only the integrated production line olives end up bottled in EVOO, with this quality mark. This seal is a mark of the highest quality.
The oil with an integrated production seal guarantees that the olives that were used for its production was picked from the tree directly and not picked up off the ground. As the fruit falls to the ground it begins to lose properties.
The symbol also guarantees that the olive has not been bitten by flies, one of the most harmful pests on the olive grov. Lastly it guarantees that the product does not come from frozen areas, which also can deteriorate the olive oil greatly.
Profitability and sustainability
After verifying the advantages of integrated production, we are assure that it is the most profitable form of cultivation for the farmer and the most sustainable for the environment. Last and certainly not least, the integrated production provides a superior quality to the consumer when shopping for an EVOO.
From Oleo Estrella Cooperative we trust that more and more producers will opt for this management system on their farms, contributing to biodiversity and the olive grove ecosystem, favoring the proliferation of animal and plant species and improving the characteristics and qualities of the final product that reaches the consumer: an extraordinary EVOO.