Abstract

Olive trees constitute one of the most dynamic cultivations for Mediterranean countries, while their economic importance is high. As water constitutes a fundamental factor affecting olive tree production, soil water content is a most critical parameter that must be monitored to improve olive trees’ cultivation management. Effects of precipitation, irrigation, and soil management on water content in four soil depths (10, 20, 30, 40 cm), four periods of the year (February–March, April–May, June–July, August–September) and three successive years were determined in 12 Mediterranean olive groves (Trifilia, south Greece) as well as their respective fruit and olive oil yields. Significantly higher soil water content was recorded in the first (+16.8%) and third (+27.4%) year compared to the second year. Higher (+6.8%) water content was observed in irrigated olive groves compared to rainfed fields. Higher (+5.6%) water content was observed in sustainable olive groves compared to intensively managed fields. Significantly, higher soil moisture was recorded at 40 and 30 cm depth compared to 10 cm depth while intermediate values were observed at 20 cm. Marked increase in fruit yield was achieved through sustainable management (+39%) compared to intensive olive groves. The potential to improve irrigation practices in the area was also indicated by results of the present study.

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