We have some 10,000 acres of olive trees under cultivation in northern California. Consequently, my colleagues and I get get asked a lot about our “green” farming practices. We’re glad to tell people we use less water, recycle our waste, and minimize our use of fertilizer.
Reduced Water Use
We use half the water per acre that other orchard crops require. How? We use drip irrigation to water our trees. That means less water is lost to evaporation. Also, the “super high density (SHD) system” we use to plant our trees means we use less water, because our trees are planted closer together than trees in traditional olive groves.
One hundred percent of our olive harvest waste is recycled.
Here’s how we handle the byproducts of our extra virgin olive oil:
- The waste water is filtered and then used on our ranches for irrigation
- The leftover olive fruit and pits, or pomace, are sold to cattle stockyards as cattle feed.
We also recycle all our tree trimmings. They’re mulched back into the soil on our ranches.
As a result, no waste is ever sent to a landfill.
Efficient Farming and Reduced Fertilizer Use
Very little of our land is “wasted.”
Our SHD growing process allows us to use the land more efficiently. We plant our semi-dwarf olive trees 575 to 670 trees per acre. That’s well below the traditional method of 100 to 150 trees per acre.
In addition to high yields per acre, the SHD method of olive cultivation requires much less fertilizer. Similarly, we “stress” our trees – much like vineyard operators do for wine grapes – to boost our oil output. That, too, means we can apply less fertilizer.
Claude S. Weiller
Vice President of Sales & Marketing
California Olive Ranch