Precision pest management in olive groves


Abstract: Managing olive pests has become a challenging operation, because of unpredicted climatic conditions, changes in cultivation schemes, ban of commonly used insecticides, increased environmental concerns and socioeconomic aspects such as major fluctuations in produce prices. Technological advances, in recent years, offer new opportunities for an environmentally and economically sound management of olive pests. For example, Geographical Position Systems, advanced mapping tools, detailed landscape characterization, electronic insect traps, real time weather forecast are increasingly exploited to assist pest management efforts. Careful and judicious use of some or many of the above tools may generate reliable temporal and spatial predictions of harmful insect populations and be used to direct “surgical” interventions to suppress them. In addition, application of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) tools can be assisted by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) to treat specific delimited hot spot areas, reducing cost of operation and the environmental footprint of pest management practices. So far, the above technology has been considered to develop IPM systems for couple of the major pests of olives. However, the list of olive pests is quite long and apart of the major ones like the olive fruit fly, Bactrocera oleae (Diptera: Tephritidae) and the olive moth, Prays oleae (Lepidoptera: Hyponomeutidae) includes additional important and diverse ones (e. g scale insects, mites) that can occasionally cause severe damages and yield losses in olives cultivation. Adoption of the new technology towards establishing precision pest management approaches in olive groves is data and knowledge demanding and still requires extensive field work. The current paper presents precision pest management approaches for the olive pests, demonstrates the use of DSS and discusses opportunities and challenges.

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