Photosynthesis, Yield, Nutrient Availability and Soil Properties after Biochar, Zeolites or Mycorrhizal Inoculum Application to a Mature Rainfed Olive Orchard uri icon


  • Soil conditioners and beneficial microorganisms are important tools that can be used to increase the sustainability of agro-systems. However, the high diversity of conditions where they can be applied may influence the results, which requires extensive field research. In this study, a field trial of four years was conducted in olive (Olea europaea L.) to assess the effect of biochar, zeolites and a commercial mycorrhizal inoculum in the photosynthetic performance, nutritional status of trees, olive yield and soil properties. The experimental design also included a fertilizer treatment with nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K) and boron (B), which nutrients were applied at 50 kg ha􀀀1 of N, P2O5 and K2O and 2 kg ha􀀀1 of B, and an untreated control. The mineral fertilizer treatment increased significantly the dry mass of pruning wood and the average olive yield by 21% over the control treatment. The mineral treatment increased plant N nutritional status, the most likely reason why the trees of this treatment performed better. Overall, the soil treatments had net photosynthetic rates similar to each other and higher than the control treatment, from the second year onwards. Biochar increased soil organic matter, as a result of the carbon (C) contained in the amendment itself, and probably by stimulating soil biological activity. Biochar and zeolites did not improve the productive performances of the tress, but increased the soil cation exchange capacity (CEC), which can benefit the system in the long-term. Mycorrhizal fungi did not show any benefit for soil or plants, which could mean that mycorrhization was not established, or their effect was not better than that of native microorganisms. In the conditions of this study, the interest of using commercial mycorrhizal fungi in a mature olive orchard seems to be low.
  • This work was funded by the Operational Group “Novas práticas em olivais de sequeiro: estratégias de mitigação e adaptação às alterações climáticas”, funded by PT2020 and EAFRD (European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development). The authors are grateful to the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT, Portugal) and FEDER under Programme PT2020 for financial support to CIMO (UIDB/00690/2020) and CITAB (UIDB/04033/2020) and also to AgriFood XXI project, nº. NORTE-01-0145-FEDER-000041, co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through NORTE 2020 (North Regional Operational Program 2014/2020).

publication date

  • January 2022