Sustainable cultivation of olive trees and innovative extraction of olive oil with ultrasound at Beno Bajda’s farm
- Datum objave 28.09.2021
This is an innovative family organic farm owned by Beno Bajda who believes in progress, innovation and development. Through years of work, learning and experience, they have managed to create world-class and unique products which have been winning awards and recognisability at home and abroad. The measures of the Rural Development Programme for the 2014–2020 period they utilise have not only stimulated their organic production of olive oil but fostered an innovative approach to production and processing. Their latest innovation (patented) is a procedure of oil extraction with ultrasound, which is less time-consuming, requires less energy and brings better quality of olive oil that contains more antioxidants than the usual cold extraction. They also used an innovative approach to protecting olive trees and their fruits against pests.
“We are small producers and have boutique-size production. But we would like to differ from others and have a wide range of products made from olive oil or leaves. In recent years, people have turned back to nature and think organically, so we try to provide them with products containing the best ingredients, and our soap is also made from organic oil. The demand for olive leaves and pickled olives has been growing.” (Beno Bajda)
Olive fruit fly attacks occur at different times, depending on the micro-location. Therefore, it is very important to notice what goes on in the grove. The difference in the risk of an olive fruit fly attack may be noticed even at 50 metres of altitude difference or 200 metres of length difference between olive groves. I have been informing the owners of neighbouring olive groves of my findings (daily monitoring) to warn them to act promptly for their and my own benefit. Coordinated action in a larger area increases the efficiency of protection against olive fruit fly attacks. which results in better quality of products and following processing, of olive oil.
First of all, it is important to me that my produce and products are healthy, not abundant in terms of quantity. Our goal is the production of healthy food products. This is also the purpose of our efforts in organic production and processing.
Organic production must be monitored daily and if necessary, preventive actions must be taken. I set pheromone traps (Cromotrap). The advisory service has its own traps (Dacotrap). The difference between the two is that Cromotrap traps contain three pheromone tablets that work in all directions, so we can determine more precisely from where the olive fruit fly will attack. Since these traps attract flies more intensively, monitoring must be carried out every morning and evening and not once a week as in the case of monitoring carried out by the advisory service. In organic production, prompt actions are very important, as we cannot carry out curative actions but only preventive. Olive fruit fly attacks must be contained in the shortest time possible. In this way, we use significantly less sprays than otherwise. When I establish that a trap contains a critical number of flies, which is a clear sign of the upcoming attack, I immediately spray a suitable permitted product only on one twig on the side of the tree which is at risk of being attacked. In our area, that is usually the east side. We only spray twigs without fruits on external trees on the terrace. In such a way, we only use 10 litres of prepared spray on one hectare of an olive grove, saving us money spent on sprays, time and energy. The downside of this manner is perhaps that spraying must be done manually. This method enables predators, i.e. natural enemies of the olive fruit fly such as ladybirds and other insects, to be preserved and developed in the olive grove. Thus we preserve the natural balance which would be disturbed with conventional cultivation methods due to plant protection products used.
The main result of our work stimulated with the measures of the RDP 2014–2020 is better quality of products and olive oil. For now, we have approximately 1,000 trees, which include 400 young trees which average 10 tonnes of produce. We produce extra virgin olive oil made with extremely cold procedures; our oils have won the most prestigious awards. We produce olive oil named Belica (white) with naturally high content of antioxidants, and olive oil named Maurino which adds to, and enriches, the character of dishes. We also produce Cuvée, olive oil with the fruitiness and spiciness of Belica toned down by gentle Maurino.
All our products are sold on our doorstep in our own oil extraction plant without intermediaries. In the light of our innovation (extraction with ultrasound – photo: IMGP8252), we are considering providing our top olive oil as a healthy food product to pharmacies. Our buyers come from everywhere not only Slovenia, for example Switzerland, Italy, Croatia, even the USA. Some of them purchase as much as a few dozen litres of oil. As we produce around 1,500 litres of oil, we have not yet thought about providing it to retail chains. Organic olive trees grow in our certified olive groves and extra virgin olive oil is produced at a family oil extraction plant with an organic certificate.
We have obtained a certificate (Bureau Veritas) of organic production/processing of agricultural and food products, and the official EU organic food product label. The conditions and rules are stated in Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 and Commission Regulation (EC) No 889/2008. We have also obtained the “protected designation of origin” certificate. We have won international awards: Extragold medal Biol Novello 2017, Extragold medal Biol 2018, Silver medal Olive Japan 2018 (The Olive Oil Sommelier Association of Japan).
We are included in measures M10 AEC, M11 Organic farming and M13 LFA.
– Environmental / Climate action:
By promptly picking the fruits, we ensure optimum maturity during processing into oil and the highest possible content of antioxidants in oil. To achieve a high content of antioxidants in olive oil, we have developed and patented (in Slovenia) a new oil extraction technology without thermal treatment. This means extremely not only extra cold extraction. It is a new procedure during which the material is not heated (it used to be heated to 27°C in accordance with the EU regulation, which was considered cold pressed olive oil). The new procedure does not require heating, reducing the processing time by 20 minutes, saving the same amount of energy. According to analyses carried out last year, there are up to 30 per cent more antioxidants in olive oil extracted in this manner, which is actually what we seek in olive oil as a healthy food product.
Cold pressing (up to a maximum of 27°C) does not generate chemical changes in the ingredients of oil. Fruits are ground, mixtures and oil are centrifuged and then poured or filtered. Nothing must be added during the procedure save for water. Our new procedure with ultrasound requires no heating at all, generating better quality.
All work in olive groves and the oil extraction plant (Torkla d.o.o.) is done by family members, meaning me, two daughters and a son who will become a young farmer.
– Networking value:
Despite carrying out our own daily monitoring, we also collaborate with the agricultural advisory service in relation to their forecasts regarding technological measures in olive groves. The advisory service also helps us to prepare applications for RDP funds.
We belong to the Association of Olive Growers of Slovenian Istria. Olive fruit fly attacks occur at different times, depending on the micro-location. Therefore, it is very important to notice what goes on in the grove. The difference in the risk of an olive fruit fly attack may be noticed even at 50 metres of altitude difference or 200 metres of length difference between olive groves. I have been informing the owners of neighbouring olive groves of my findings (daily monitoring) to warn them to act promptly for their and my own benefit. Coordinated action in a larger area increases the efficiency of protection against olive fruit fly attacks.
In view of our positive experiences, such use of pheromone traps for monitoring and lower consumption of plant protection products, energy and time could be transferred to other countries.
Photo copyright: ČZD Kmečki glas d. o. o.