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Deficit irrigation and fertigation practices in olive growing: convergences and divergences in two case studies

AuthorsTognetti, R.; Morales Sillero, Ana; D'Andria, R.; Fernández Luque, José Enrique ; Lavini, A.; Sebastiani, Lorenzo; Troncoso de Arce, Antonio
Issue Date2008
PublisherSocietà Botanica Italiana
CitationPlant Biosystems 142(1): 138-148 (2008)
AbstractThe response of mature olive (Olea europaea L.) trees to both regulated deficit irrigation and fertigation was studied for some consecutive years in sub-humid (Italy) and semi-arid conditions (Spain). All cultivars tested in these experiments were preferentially for table olive consumption (pickling and double-aptitude). Data from these long-term studies on field-grown, mature trees are summarized for assessing common effects of water and nutrient supply on plant behaviour and fruit yield. Seasonal yield variations were observed, and showed that the effect of irrigation treatments was somewhat more gradual in the >on> than in the >off> year. Differences amongst cultivars were always marked. Dry matter accumulation in pulp and pit was positively affected by progressively increasing the amount of water supplied to plants, regardless of years and cultivars. The ratio between pulp and pit fresh weight was negatively affected by irrigation, while fruit size was positively influenced by the gradual increase of irrigation water. Average nitrogen levels in leaves were generally above the deficiency threshold at both experimental plantations. Crop yield was not consistently increased by addition of soil nutrients. The effect of fertigation treatments was relatively uninfluential on oil accumulation in fruits. However, polyphenols in oil samples decreased progressively as the addition of nutrients increased. Critical aspects and strategic decisions in modern olive growing are the selection of cultivar, the supply of water, the option of fertilization, together with other orchard management practices. In this paper we outline various aspects of long-term studies in experimental olive plantations with the aim of highlighting inter-regulatory processes, involving plant growth and crop yield, which must be taken into account when planning future field research and modelling exercises.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1080/11263500701872879
issn: 1126-3504
e-issn: 1724-5575
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