The CRA-OLI has research projects that are financed by the European Community, the Ministries of University and Research and Agriculture, Food and Forest Policies, as well as the Italian Regions. In particular, in 1999-2000 years it coordinated a research project entitled “Characterization of the quality of olive oils produced in southern Italy from olives cultivated by organic methods”, which involves the major olive producing regions in the South of Italy (Apulia, Calabria, Sicily, and Sardinia). It was responsible for a special, integrated research project co-funded by the Italian Ministries of University and Research and Agricultural and Forest Policies, entitled “Valorisation of typical products: definition of parameters and techniques for certification of origin and quality”. The CRA-OLI is presently responsible for general coordination of a research program sponsored by the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forest Policies on organic cultivation techniques, comprising seven research projects, and also directs one of these. More recently, it coordinate a large research project entitled
“Research and innovation for the olive growing of the South” (RIOM) which involves all the olive producing regions in the South of Italy (Apulia, Calabria, Sicily, Basilicata and Campania), funded by the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forest Policies. Numerous research publications have stemmed from these research efforts. The Institute has significant experience in scientific and technological innovation and it is at the forefront of new cultivation techniques, propagation methods, pest and disease management strategies, production of table olives, analytical methodologies, genotype and place of origin traceability, all belonging the olive/olive oil chain. The Institute has notable interdisciplinary scientific skills with researchers in Chemistry, Agricultural and Biological Sciences, as well as technicians in agricultural methods with extensive experience in olive cultivation. Lastly, many staff members, including researchers and technicians, are also professional taste-testers of olive oils and are members of the national register of taste-testers as experts on the sensorial evaluation of olive oil.
The research activity of the CRA-OLI comprise:
a) Characterization of varieties and its products and Genetic Improvement:
1) Selection, description, and evaluation of old and new olive varieties. This research has recently been updated to take account of the continual discovery of new and interesting genetic accessions, even in very old olive groves, and for the classification of material selected in previous years.
2) Identification and valorization of Italian olive varieties. The research is aimed at:
1) morpho-bio-agricultural characterization of the large varietal collection at Mirto Crosia (Cosenza); 2) study of DNA polymorphisms (microsatellite loci, SSR); 3) applied chemometric analysis of the various components of monovarietal olive oils (fatty acids, phenols, and volatile compounds).
3) Olive resistance to biotic and abiotic stress and isolation of tolerant plants. This research was reevaluated in 2002 and has permitted the isolation of varieties resistant to drought, salt, cold, and verticillium wilt.
b) Propagation and cultivation techniques:
1) Study of agricultural problems relative to irrigation and fertirigation. Research reassessed in 2002 that will continue for at least one more year.
2) Resistance of olives to brackish water. This research will continue for another year to determine the effects of the use of brackish water for irrigation of olive groves.
3) Tests on planting grass in olive groves. These analyses examining the influence of land management (controlled sowing of grass seed and mechanical intervention) carried out and extended to other olive growers with different subsoil and soil conditions in Calabria and Sicily.
4) Comparison between types of olive cultivation. These evaluations will continue, assessing growth and production of five cultivars grown in vases or as monocones to initiate studies on production efficiency.
5) Micropropagation of olives. Research aimed at better understanding of micropropagation.
Mycorrhiza in olives. This research area has been recently strengthened with the availability of a dedicated fellowship.
1) Integrated defenses against Bactrocera oleae (Gmel.) using alternative methods also compatible with organic farming. This research is targeted at integrated defenses that are both eco-compatible and suitable for organic farming techniques. The project has the objective of evaluating the environmental impact of various treatments and determining the presence of eventual residues of treatment products.2) Assessment of the diffusion of verticillium and peacock spot disease. Study of etiologic
mechanisms and sources of resistance This research has the major objective of optimizing defense against Verticillium, peacock spot, and Cercosporiosis.
e) Products and byproducts:
1) Production of green olives using alternative methods This research involves measurement and verification of chemical, microbiological, and organoleptic parameters of olives and packaging brine of various Italian varieties subjected to different manufacturing systems.
2) Traceability of Italian olive oils. Construction and validation of chemometric models that are able to characterize, classify, and individuate the most widespread Italian olive oils through multivariate statistical analysis of multivariety and monovariety olive oils.
3) Tests on composting olive mill wastes. Residual oil and vegetable water added to bedding and ground cuttings subjected to composting. The compost is then distributed over olive fields. Various assessments are made on olive plants to reveal the effects of this treatment.
Special research past projects
· Development of production systems of olive oil using competitive organic farming techniques that are sustainable, traceable, safe, and high-quality (OLIBIO). Three-year national research project (2004-2007) financed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry based on a national research plan in which the Institute is visualized, through the coordination provided by Dr. Enzo Perri, as holding a key role in Coordination of the Unit by carrying out a research project entitled: “Development of innovative methods for the safe, selective, and sensitive determination of pesticide residues and metabolites”. Dr. Perri is also General Coordinator of the entire program financed by the Ministry of major projects on organic farming.
· Organic Olive Cultivation Three-year research project (2004-2007) financed by the Ministry of University and Research, coordinated by Dr. Enzo Perri, which foresees objectives and activities that are complementary to the project involving the development of production systems for olive oil using organic farming techniques: i) to study proposals in new technical production techniques for extra virgin olive oil from olives obtained using high-quality organic farming methods; control Bactrocera oleae using mass capture techniques; individuate substances that have biological activity towards Bactrocera oleae (Gmel.) using electroantennograph studies; carry out molecular profiling of oils obtained from organic farming methods by NMR; construct chemometric models using data on soil composition and oils obtained by ICP/MS in order to develop models oil-soil models useful for product traceability.
· Study of potential relationships between soils and location as related top production of high-quality olive oils Three-year research project (2004-2006) financed by the Ministry of University Research and coordinated by the Experimental Institute for the Study and Defense of Soil in Catanzaro. The objective of the research is to assess the influence of soil characteristics on the composition of olive oil. The IEA has the job of studying the qualitative characteristics of oils, while the Institute in Catanzaro will examine the structural, physical, physical, and chemical properties of soil.
Competitive aspects of olive in Italy Three-year research project (2004-2007) financed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry coordinated by Dr. Nicola Lombardo Objectives: Definition of models for renewing olive cultivation in the Southern and Central regions in Italy; Reduction of production by adopting mechanized procedures; Qualitative and quantitative improvement of production; Favor environmental safeguards.Evaluation of olives obtained by crossing in terms of production, quality of oils, and drupes destined for direct consumption as well as resistance to parasites (SEINOLTA) Three-year national research project (2005-2007) financed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry coordinated by Dr. Giorgio Pannelli. Objective: Evaluation of 150 selected cultures in four different geographic regions (Tuscany, Umbria, Basilicata, and Calabria), in terms agricultural characteristics, quality of drupes destined for
· transformation, qualitative characteristics of oils and resistance of degree of susceptibility of genotypes to environmental conditions as well as biotic and abiotic diseases.
Improvement of sensorial and nutritional properties of alimentary products of plant origin relative to the first and second transformation Three-year research project (2006-2008, FISR, second call) directed by the University of Perugia in which the Institute functions as an operative unit (Coordinator Dr. Enzo Perri) financed by the Ministries of University and Research, Economics and Finance, Agriculture and Forestry, and Environment using special funds for research targeted to projects of particular national relevance.
Past Projects funded by regional bodies
Experimental production techniques for olive cultivation in the Lazio region Project financed annually. Coordinator: Dr. Dr. Giorgio Pannelli, FINANCED BY: Regional Society for Development and Innovation in Agriculture in Lazio, Rome.
Improvement of olive cultivation using agricultural and genetic methods in the Marches Project financed annually. Coordinator: Dr. Giorgio Pannelli, FINANCED BY: Agency of Agro-alimentary Services of the Marches, Ancona.
Innovations in cultivation and production of table olives Three-year project (2004-2007) Coordinator: Dr. Raffaele Mulé, FINANCED BY: Advisor of Agriculture and Forestry, Sicilian Region.
Program of technical and production experimentation in olive cultivation in the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region: Selection, evaluation, and valorization of genetic material identified by the Regional Agricultural Development Service Coordinator: Dr. Dr. Giorgio Pannelli, Annual project. FINANCED BY: The Regional Agricultural Development Service of Friuli Venezia Giulia.
Program of Technical Assistance and Advising Services 2004-2006 Annual project. Coordinator: Dr. Enzo Perri, FINANCED BY: Provincial Inspector of Agriculture and Human Alimentation of Brindisi-Regional Advisor Agriculture and Forestry, Puglia Region.