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Farmers combine ancient and modern techniques to salvage crop production

Farmers around the world are now turning their attention to traditional and modern farming methods to improve productivity despite extreme weather conditions.

Italy and Spain, the third and fourth most productive farming industries in Europe, respectively, have been facing huge losses and low productivity due to climatic factors in the region. These losses have come mainly in the production of olive oil, a product in which both countries are the top producers.

Extreme droughts and desertification

Both countries have suffered from desertification and drought, with severe cases leaving Spain with a serious risk of infertile land in the long run. Concurrently, Italy could yet be in for another terrible year after it experienced one of its most severe droughts in 70 years in 2022. 

With increasing global concerns regarding climate change as well as predictions from scientists of more drought, farmers in both countries have now turned their attention modern farming techniques in order to mitigate their losses and improve production.

Cover crops may prove reliable

In Spain, farmers are now relying on cover crops to help conserve water and preserve soil nutrients. According to the Spanish Agriculture Ministry, cover crops are now in use on about 30% of olive groves in the country.

Cover crops are crops grown mainly for the enrichment and protection of the soil. This practice is an ancient one, and even though a study from 2019 suggested that they may reduce yield in the short term, cover crops were found to be more beneficial in the long run.

Farming with digital technology

Following the extreme weather and huge losses that have even made Italy lose its spot as the world’s largest wine producer, modern farming through digital technology has become popular. Many new forms of tech are being used that help with such things as water conservation, soil monitoring, and tracking growth factors like temperature and water evaporation from leaves.

According to the Smart AgriFood Observatory of the Milan Polytechnic and the University of Brescia, the use of digital tools on farmlands has seen a slight increase, moving from 6% in 2021 to 8% in 2022.

A cereal farmer in the province of Mantua in northern Italy, Andrea Ronca, is one of the many farmers enjoying the use of technology on their farms. Ronca told Reuters News that he’s now able to use satellite images to track the driest part of his land. He also added that he “can adjust irrigation at any time”, all from his smartphone without any wastages.

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