Soil O-Live technicians design and install innovative beneficial insect-friendly traps to capture olive flies

Baeza-based Company Nutesca, part of the Soil O-Live consortium, has developed an innovative trapping system for the olive fly. These traps just capture the abovementioned fly and respect the other insects which are beneficial for the olive groves, improving crop sustainability, as well as olive oil quality.

Antonio Manzaneda, Soil O-Live coordinator, researcher and Ecology professor at University of Jaén accentuates the research and innovation effort on the part of the companies and institutions within the project. “These ingenious traps, which have already been placed in the Guadalquivir valley (Andalusia) and Portugal as part of the project, display an enormous potential to minimise or eradicate the application of traditional insecticides, which are expensive, highly inefficient and harmful for biodiversity. These chemical are likely to end up accumulated on the olive grove soil as well”, as Manzaneda states.

Nutesca managing director, Antonio Estévez, explains that these are low-cost traps which can be placed on the olive groves for monitoring or massive trapping purposes. He declares that “this new system allows to target the olive fly without damaging the olive parasitoids. Compared with traditional traps, which capture all insects making no distinctions, we can now protect the entomofauna balance. Therefore, this type of low-cost traps can be employed for two different actions: on the one hand, knowing if the olive fly is present in the crops, using just one trap per hectare. On the other hand, we can monitor the olive groves by means of massive trapping, employing twenty traps per hectare, but always targeting our enemy, the olive fly, and avoiding the capture of beneficial lacewings and parasitoids”.

Regarding environmental protection and sustainability, Estévez emphasises that, due to the introduction of the new European framework on food safety, the use of pesticides is now being minimised, highly restricting their permitted use and varieties, thus promoting new pest control techniques and boosting olive oil quality at the same time.

Soil O-Live project aims at analysing the impact of pollution and terrain degradation on the olive grove soil as far as multidiversity and ecological function at different levels of organisation and scales. Other goals for this project are researching into the relationship between the soil’s health status and olive oil quality and safety, as well as implementing effective soil modification techniques and ecological restoration practices intended to improve biodiversity demonstrably.

Soil O-Live project is conducted through a consortium of seventeen partners: fifteen of them are academic institutions and the remaining two members are olive-related companies. This research scheme is funded with almost 7 million euros from the Soil Health and Food mission, included in the Horizon Europe R&D scheme, which is the European Union’s framework programme for research and innovation during the period 2021-2027.