Description of the Action
FruitCREWS Action addresses the challenges of climate change, particularly water scarcity and increased evapotranspiration in agriculture. Our focus is on fruit tree crops, which face significant risks due to these factors. Our Action aims to understand how fruit tree crops respond to drought stress in different environments. We strive to identify effective tools for real-time monitoring of plant water status and enable growers to schedule irrigation accurately using new technologies. Our activities include:
Our results will contribute to sustainable irrigation management in European orchards. By collaborating with researchers, SMEs, service providers, water authorities, and fruit producers, we aim to disseminate our findings to a wide range of stakeholders and raise awareness about water scarcity issues.
Climate change is leading to more frequent and prolonged droughts as well as higher temperatures worldwide, resulting in increased irrigation needs for crops. Water scarcity and competition among sectors further threaten the sustainability of tree crops. Fruit orchards, especially those in the Mediterranean region, face significant risks due to their long growing seasons, high water requirements, and specific quality standards associated with water status.
To tackle these challenges, a European network of scientists and stakeholders aims to understand how tree crops respond to drought, develop real-time monitoring tools, and promote efficient water management through decision support systems (DSSs). This initiative builds upon existing research, harnesses advancements in technology, and acknowledges the importance of DSS tools as recognized by the younger generation of growers in the context of climate change.
The objectives of FruitCREWS Action
The objective of FruitCREWS Action is to enhance our understanding of how different fruit tree crops respond to drought stress in diverse growing environments. The goal is to utilize this knowledge to enhance decision support systems (DSSs) for precise irrigation management. The following steps will be taken throughout the duration of the initiative:
Collecting, integrating, and sharing a substantial amount of scientific information on the physiological response to drought stress in at least six perennial crops, which are among the most common in Europe (grapevine, olive, apple, peach, pear, kiwifruit). This data will be stored in a database.
For each species considered, identifying the most useful physiological indicator for quantifying plant water status. This will be achieved by utilizing cost-effective and user-friendly proximal and/or remote sensing sensor tools.
Selecting the most appropriate physiological and geospatial models from existing ones to assess plant physiological performance and water status. This will involve integrating plant sensor data as inputs for the models.
Proposing precision irrigation approaches for different crops based on: i) routines to upscale model outputs at orchard level so to correctly estimate irrigation needs; ii) optimized deficit irrigation protocols and iii) definition of within-orchard management zones (MZ), for possible implementation in DSSs.
Based on this knowledge, providing end-users and service providers with reports on the most promising DSSs available for different fruits, as well as highlighting technical gaps for their improvement. Efforts will be made to facilitate the dissemination and adoption of these DSSs.
Raising public awareness and promoting the adoption of “Precision irrigation” strategies.
Encouraging the adoption of an approach to sustainable water management among end-users by promoting the diffusion and adoption of ICT technologies.