“LIFE RESILIENCE: Prevention of X. fastidiosa in intensive olive & almond plantations applying productive green farming practices”.

The Xylella fastidiosa (XF) is a bacterium with pathogenic potential and the ability of transmitting diseases into a great variety of woody and tree crops. This bacterium has set the alarm in Europe since its detection in 2013 in olive groves. Since then it has infected more than 1 million olive trees with the Olive Quick Decline Syndrome (OQDS).

Detected in France, Germany and Spain, the disease has the potential of spreading out to other countries with similar climatic conditions as well as to other species, such as the almond tree. The UE considers this quarantine organism to be one of the most dangerous ones due to the easiness with which these bacteria can spread around the world. This fact could bring about a great amount of diseases and therefore, a great economic impact on agriculture. Spain, Italy and Greece, the world’s main olive and olive oil producers, are at the moment under the risk of losing millions of Euros due to this bacterium.

Given the high spreading risk of the XF to big farmland areas of the UE, LIFE RESILENCE proposes the use of genotypes of productive and pathogen resistant plants, the innovation and application of natural methods of vector control in order to demonstrate its efficacy on the prevention of the negative effects of the Xylella Fastidiosa. Once the crop has been infected by this pathogen,its containment and elimination are very  difficult to achieve. Current measures tackle the eradication of infected plants as well as the surrounding vegetation, causing great economic and ecologic loss. Preliminary investigation shows that climates with warm winter rare especially vulnerable to the proliferation of pathogens, and the Climate Change will exacerbate this.

LIFE RESILENCE addresses the sustainable and resistant agriculture and forestry sectors as a critical area within the Climate Change adaptation, as it intends to demonstrate an improvement of the sustainability and resistance in the production of olive trees and almond trees in the Mediterranean Area. This project also addresses to the UE Climatic Change Mitigation area, mainly in relation with the use of land and the silviculture.

Through the improvement of sustainability, the project will focus on the reduction of both; the amount of water used in the production process, as well as the carbon footprint, thus improving the Climate Change Mitigation potential of agriculture.

The demonstration trials implement the use of fertilizers, hydric stress, efficient handling of soil health as well as the use of drones for a precise surveillance and monitoring of soil health among others. In order to reduce the carbon footprint, the irrigation systems will be feed by solar panels and wind energy among others, the fertilization will be optimized, as well as the use of phytosanitary products, reaching a balance thanks to the alternating use of treatments with a biological base. In the trial area located in Italy, a sound trap will be tested; this will reduce the use of insecticides, which means a reduction of GEI emissions.

Regarding the improvement of the resistance, this project will focus on the optimization of the resistance of the olive tree to its environment and pathogens and foreign epidemics, this is an urgent matter in most of the cases, but it is also applicable to other predictable outbreaks in the future. It is expected that the climatic change will lead to more plagues and stone diseases, and it is therefore important for the most vulnerable systems of intensive production, such as almonds and almonds in the Mediterranean area to be prepared to face these threads with a improved immune system.

The vegetal genetics trials as well as the demonstration of sustainable practices are key for the prevention of the spread, as well as the reduction of the impact of the diseases caused y the Xylella Fastidiosa in areas under the risk of getting infected in the fore coming years.