Status of the work in WP6, the Spanish National Cluster

June 2018

Spain participates in the IWMPRAISE project within the group of perennial woody crops, which constitutes the Work Package 6 (WP6), in an attempt to improve the integrated weed management (IWM) systems carried out by farmers in olive orchards.

During year 1 of IWMPRAISE there have been several meetings between the two Spanish organisations, the Institute for Sustainable Agriculture of the Spanish National Research Council (IAS-CSIC) and the Navarre Institute of Transfer and Innovation in Agri-food sector (INTIA) located in the south and north of Spain, respectively. These meetings together with different stakeholder interviews (technicians, experts and farmers) carried out by each organization have enabled progress in establishing the IWM strategies to be applied in the Spanish experimental trials. Additionally, the study developed by all the WP6 participants (including the NIAB, the United Kingdom science partner). Their meetings and continuous contact have resulted in the adaptation of these strategies and the establishment of common assessments and methodology to be used according to the main goals and work schedule of the IWMPRAISE project.

Different meetings between IAS-CSIC, INTIA, NIAB and the stakeholders.

In this first year, advances have been made in the scenario of perennial woody crops, finding that olive groves growing in the south and north of Spain carry out similar IWM strategies despite the geographical distance and the different soil and weather conditions. The most used soil management technique in olive groves continues to be conventional tillage, no tillage with the use of spontaneous cover crops and no tillage with chemical control. Moreover, all the farmers single out two very distinctive areas with different soil and weed management systems: soil beneath the olive trees, where it is necessary to facilitate harvesting and along the lanes (intra-row and inter-row spacing), where soil compaction and susceptibility to runoff and erosion are the most important problems. Under these circumstances, and in an attempt to implement IWM strategies adapted to the realities of Spanish farmers, on-farm experiments will be conducted at two different locations: the south of Spain (Cañete de las Torres, Córdoba) and the north of Spain (Pamplona, Navarra).

In the south of Spain, IAS-CSIC has established collaboration with the olive-growing cooperative ‘Virgen del Campo’ and experimental farms will belong to farmers associated with the cooperative. Given the interest shown by farmers, spontaneous grass cover crops effects will be checked with respect to conventional tillage in the inter-row spacing. IWM strategies will also include inter-row cover crops with pruning wood residues in a crossed pattern to the tree rows direction and chemical control beneath the olive trees.

Different IWM strategies established in the south of Spain: spontaneous grass cover crops and conventional tillage.

In the north of Spain, the study will be carried out on experimental farms belonging to INTIA. Olive orchards in the area are commonly managed by no tillage with spontaneous cover crops or chemical control and conventional tillage. Therefore, IWM strategies will include spontaneous crucifer cover crops with respect to conventional tillage combined with herbicide application in the area beneath the olive trees and in the intra-row spacing.

Different IWM strategies established in the north of Spain: spontaneous crucifer cover crops and conventional tillage.

The field study will start with the beginning of the growing season in southern Europe (September 2018). The field trials installation will be carried out in June of 2018 but the first year data will be collected from September to April and May in the south and north of Spain, respectively. Nevertheless, the experimental plan has been presented to the stakeholders involved during this first year and the project has been widely disseminated in several Spanish media, including printed and electronic press and the regular update of the Spanish website (more details at first results will be shared and discussed with the UK national cluster in the first quarter of 2019, in an attempt to provide the information required to assess the economic and environmental implications of IWM strategies. Additionally, open field days will be carried out during the spring in order to convey the results to the end user community.