Preparation of our olive fields

alpacas de paja para la preparación de nuestros olivos

Obtaining a good extra virgin olive oil does not only depend on its careful harvesting, milling and conservation. Good extra virgin olive oil always comes from healthy olive groves that are in optimum condition all year round. Therefore, a healthy olive tree needs continuous care, and the soil that maintains it plays an essential role in the olive tree in this respect.

If you want to know more about the importance of soil, you can read: Soil erosion in Jaén

In the Cortijuelo de San Benito we want to bring the life and work of olive groves to the consumer. Here you will be able to know from the different stages of the care of the olive grove up to the production of the olive oil of Jaén, in this case, where we are producers. Also in our blog we show you other fields of Spain from where we bring other oils: Baena, Sierra Magina, Priego de Córdoba, Sierra de Cazorla, Toledo, etc..

Soil, olive groves and olive oil

Soil has very important functions for the olive tree or any plant; the first function we could highlight is to maintain the structure of the plant. Without a soil where the olive tree is held, the plant would lie down and could not be maintained. The second function of the soil is to provide food and nutrients to the plant. That we have a fertile soil with humidity and full of minerals and nutrients, as anyone can think, is fundamental for a good development of the olive tree and the development of its fruit. When it comes to producing extra virgin olive oil of the highest quality, the balance of the nutrients and their composition is of enormous importance, much greater than any non expert in edaphology would think.

The soil must have all the nutrients it needs, apart from the most important of which are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Many other micronutrients: iron, calcium… Another of the components that the soil has to have is humus, a complex of very varied composition that brings enormous benefits to the soil.

In order to obtain a soil rich in nutrients, we fertilize our fields with organic vegetable matter, and among the numerous sources that the field gives us, we add wheat straw.

We fertilize our olive trees with natural products, the straw

By adding straw to the soil we achieve great benefits for the soil. Straw is organic matter that decomposes quickly and becomes humus. The latter brings nutrients to the soil and improves soil structure. The improvement of the soil structure causes something very important, the soil particles are more united to each other and it is more difficult for them to detach when attacked by an erosion agent, rainwater or wind. The supply of nutrients is essential for the plant to develop and produce a good fruit, in this case quality olives.

The maintenance of humidity is another of the positive properties provided by the use of straw. By spreading the straw over the soil we create a natural layer that reduces evaporation from the soil, something very important in Jaén, where summers are long, hot and dry. How many times have we seen cracks in the soils that dry the deepest soils of the olive grove. Straw acts as a natural barrier between the atmosphere and the soil.

We have already mentioned it, but the lack of organic matter is a very serious problem of the soils of the olive grove. Millions of organisms live in the soil, and these need food. A continuous exploitation of soil resources without replenishment, is a continuous impoverishment of the soil that bills the soil and therefore our olive oil.

With these points that we have summarized previously, we are carrying out measures to solve these common problems that all the olive groves of Jaén have. Next we present you a small photographic report and with videos to show you the operation of unloading our alpacas. $8 of a single trip.

Straw for our olive trees from Jaén

At the beginning of July 2017 we brought a trailer full of straw from Ávila in order to spread it on the ground of our olive groves of Porcuna in Jaén. In the photos we can see how this trailer full of straw alpacas leaves it on a field of Porcuna.

In the photo below we can see how the trailer has arrived and prepares to download the straw alpacas.

Photo 1: The arrival of the trailer

In the next picture below, the gates of the trailer are already open. The trailer driver is making the final preparations to start unloading the straw alpaca.

Photo 2: Download trailer

In the last photo we can see how most of the unloaded alpacas are.

Olive grove erosion

Erosion is an environmental problem of enormous importance. One can see olive fields in Jaén in areas of slope, and realize how olive trees are hanging. Meters and cubic meters of earth that are deposited in lower areas and leaving on the slopes coarse sands with little life and nutrients. Olive trees that are increasingly weakened, making the olive grove as a whole less profitable because the olive harvests and therefore olive oil minimum.

In this video we can see how the trailer is unloading the alpacas. The alpacas are unloading alone with the movable floor

By fertilizing with straw, we are improving the structure of the soil and avoiding runoff. Runoff ends up joining together and causing small streams, which carry away large amounts of soil and cause such damaging erosion. We must take into account, up to 1000 or 2000 years to regenerate.

Criticism of naturalists

There is a lot of talk about organic products, insecticides, but something as important as erosion, only connoisseurs are aware of this huge environmental problem. It is an environmental problem which large companies cannot commercialise and take large sums of money from. This is why, in my opinion, we are not talking about this issue.



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