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World Water Day: a new algorithm for olive growing

In the first year of testing, Monini found a potential savings of 26%

Dry rivers in the middle of winter, water reserves reduced to minimum terms, temperature records that are invariably broken down: in recent months we have witnessed the general rehearsals of a future that sees water as an increasingly precious, limited and requested commodity, especially in agriculture and above all in Italy, 1st country in Europe and 44th in the world by land area with a water stress rate of over 80% (data from Valore Acqua White Book 2023 - The European House Ambrosetti). Monini recalls this on the occasion of World Water Day, an event established in 1992 by the UN to reflect on the value of the resource and promote safeguarding actions.

An appeal that the Spoleto-based company, assuming the responsibility of looking to a future that is not only the short-term one linked to business, has made it for some time: water is in fact one of the main projects of A Hand for the Future , the 2030 sustainability plan which in two years has already seen over 10 million euros invested, largely in agriculture and water management, a resource that directly affects the quantity and quality of plant production, with consequences for example on the polyphenol content.

The new precision algorithm developed by the collaboration between Monini, the University of Perugia and Eliasian, an Italian scaleup born in 2016 and specialized in technological and data-driven solutions in particular for the management of olive trees, vines and almond trees, falls within this sphere. The development of the algorithm and the use of new precision technologies based on ground sensors, satellite measurements and big data analysis, has already demonstrated in 2022 a potential water saving of 26% - for a total of almost 195,000 liters saved - compared to the precision irrigation system in Monini's experimental olive groves in Frantoio del Poggiolo (Spoleto), part of Bosco Monini, the new green lung of 700,000 olive groves (they will become 1 million by 2030) between Umbria, Tuscany and Puglia which represents the model of modern and sustainable olive growing that the company is developing. Here the olive groves, cultivated with organic farming, have in fact already been fed for years with drip irrigation systems, which allow the plants to absorb over 90% of the water administered.

A result that is widely exceeded thanks to the use of new technology. In 2023, the algorithm will be validated by direct comparison of consumption between portions of land managed according to the man-made precision irrigation method and the innovative one dictated by the algorithm and implementation of the measurement of savings and the related environmental impact (water and energetic). The aim is to extend its use on a large scale, even beyond the confines of the company, which is a candidate to become a model of sustainability for the supply chain.

“We don't want to limit ourselves to doing well for the sake of convenience, nor limit our action to the corporate or territorial perimeter - declares Zefferino Monini, president and CEO of the olive oil company - We look at the world of oil as a whole, with the hope of offering the our contribution to build, together with the other players in the supply chain, a more sustainable future for Italian olive growing".

“In a year particularly marked by drought - explained Giovanni Di Mambro , founding partner of Eliasian together with Damiano Angelici - this agronomic collaboration demonstrates the importance of Elaisian's precision farming technologies and cutting-edge tools for a company like Monini , which is committed to promoting quality and sustainability. Thanks to accurate data, the company can use resources efficiently, reducing the environmental impact”.

The development of the algorithm and its large-scale validation are only the latest result of a commitment that started a long time ago and is based on the company's vocation to innovate "with human intelligence", not to be satisfied, without ever losing sight of the contact with the land and with tradition. A continuous and constant effort that Monini makes available to the supply chain for a modern and sustainable future of Italian oil.

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EFA News - European Food Agency