Precision techniques for improving the management of the olive groves of southern Spain

S. Alamo, M. I. Ramos, F. R. Feito, J. A. Cañas


Precision agriculture has progressed in integrating different techniques, but nowadays the environmental and economic benefits of implementing the concept remain unproven. This is the first study that analyzes the agronomic and economic impact of the application of precision agriculture to a specific crop. This paper presents a study applied to olive orchards at a high level of detail. The research is conducted in order to establish a methodology for integrating Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Global Positioning System (GPS) to implement precision agriculture in a specific olive grove in southern Spain. In this study the variability of five consecutive harvests, the homogeneous areas within the farm and the composition of the crop nutrients are all analysed. Different georeferenced management areas, analysis of cost of tillage, fertilization, herbicide treatments, pruning and harvesting are integrated into a GIS. In this study it has been possible to select a zone in the exploitation knowing immediately, for example, if the leaf N content was less than 1.5% in any campaign. The results show that detailed analyses in collecting the harvest and in the use of agrochemicals help to produce reductions in their use, with the consequent savings to olive growers and, in general, environmental benefits for the whole of society.


GIS; GPS; olive farming; precision agriculture

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DOI: 10.5424/sjar/2012103-361-11