Institute for Mediterranean Studies


Sustainable strategies for the improvement of seriously degraded agricultural areas: The example of Pistachia vera L. - AgroStrat

Sustainable strategies for the improvement of seriously degraded agricultural areas: The example of Pistachia vera L.
LIFE11 ENV/GR/000951

LIFE11 ENV/GR/000951

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AgroStrat is an ambitious project which foresees the development of an integrated scenario for the sustainable management of intensively cultivated Mediterranean areas. This scenario will be integrated to strategy through a series of actions and by using as an example Pistachia vera L. trees which are  intensively cultivated in Aegina Island, Greece for the last 150 years. Apart from the development of sustainable management and monitoring plan at local/regional scale suitable for intensively cultivated areas, the project focuses also on exploitation and valorization of pistachio wastes, which at present are disposed without control on soils causing several environmental problems.

The proposal foresees a well-structured plan which will begin with identification of environmental degradation extent and will be completed after two 27-month actions during which, all developed and feasible practices and technologies will be applied in demonstration scale.

Since soil is a crucial factor in evaluating the environmental sensitivity of an ecosystem, especially in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid zones, preservation and monitoring of soil and water quality in these areas are basic targets of the project, as well as, the development of monitoring tools which will be available to end-users (farmers, stakeholders and local authorities). These tools will include decision making tools and natural resources plans and will promote continuous monitoring of wastes disposal areas assisting thus planning and implementation of local authorities' policy.

Agrostrat foresees a series of innovative actions, which are:

  1. Development of a set of soil indicators suitable for pistachio cultivation practices and wastes disposal that could be used for the determination of soil quality, degradation and desertification risk.
  2. Exploitation of pistachio wastes to produce compost, which will be a valuable marketable product For the production of compost other agricultural wastes as well as natural zeolite will be considered so that the final product will ne characterized as slow release fertilizer, contributing, thus, to the recycling of carbon and nutrients. Pistachio waste has not been exploited so far for the production of compost in commercial scale.
  3. Development of a GIS-based Land Information System (GIS-LIS) and land suitability maps that will allow controlled and sustainable application of treated pistachio wastes and will guarantee preservation of soil and water quality.
  4. Development of a software monitoring tool for the sustainable management of intensively cultivated Mediterranean areas, using as an example the cultivation of P.vera L. in Aegina island. This tool will include two cases:(1) use by individual farmers, (2) network development between farmers and local authorities and establishment of a central monitoring/management system (Central Management Monitoring Tool - CMMT) which will collect data and provide farmers and other interested parties and agents a continuous feedback and updated information regarding guidelines that they have to take in account for sustainable cultivation of pistachio trees. Thus, through this tool, farmers and local authorities/other stakeholders will have the opportunity to screen cultivated areas rapidly, identify potential risky conditions and proceed to detailed monitoring, if necessary, implement resources monitoring at field and municipal scale allowing, thus, continuous monitoring of the cultivated areas. The Beneficiaries will also construct a practical, easy to use, field equipment for rapid measurement of soil pH, moisture and EC which could be used by individual farmers. The collected measurements will periodically feed the monitoring tool.

The project will be integrated using a carefully designed strategy and specific guidelines in the form of a "Best practices for sustainable P. vera L. cultivation and resources management" which is one of the project's deliverables.

Such an integrated approach is needed in order to establish guidelines, terms and conditions which will consider soil, cultivated crops, environment and farmers as an integral system whose components are interrelated. Moreover, soil quality protection, which is usually ignored, will be inserted and recognized as another integral part of the developed practices. This approach, which involves several innovative aspects, is carefully designed and will be implemented through the use of weighted technical, economical, environmental and social criteria.

Three Greek research and educational institutions participate in AgroStrat: