S-H-D Farming

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Super High Density Farming [S-H-D]

Super High Density Farming [S-H-D] is the most innovative method of farming olive trees. Farming intensively speeds up the production of the orchard. Low vigor cultivars, which can stay short to the ground for many years, are the main requirement for this type of farming.

Super High Density Farming is very effective and it is the future of the industry, its only limitation is that at this point only a handful of varieties meet the low vigor required. Farmers seeking to differentiate in unique production, and aim to achieve a very high quality product, need to diversify with as many S-H-D varieties as possible, and in some cases include traditional varieties. The inclusion of traditional varieties in an S-H-D orchard can be done in perimeters or sections.

Researchers are continuously crossbreeding varieties with the goal of achieving more low vigor varieties producing the highest quality oils.

Research & Development

Professor Giuseppe Fontanazza was born in Calascibetta Sicily, in 1938 and graduated with a Masters degree in Agricultural Science in November 1963 at the University of Perugia. In 1970 he achieved the post-graduate university title “Libera Docenza”, which allows the right to teach Horticultural Science at Universities and from 1971 to 1983 he held a teaching course on propagation at the Institute of Fruit Crops of the Agricultural Science University Perugia.

He developed his scientific career inside of IRO-CNR (the Oliviculture Department of the National Research Center of Italy) in Perugia. In 1995 he reached the peak of his career by receiving the title of Director of Research of the Institute.

NATO Fellowship

In 1975 through a senior NATO fellowship he worked at the University of Bristol in England, doing research on propagation. In search of full knowledge, he then visited several Mediterranean olive producing countries like Greece, Portugal, Spain, Morocco, France and Cyprus and from 1984 until now, the Professor has consulted in all areas of the world where olives are farmed and in several more areas where Governments, farmers and entrepreneurs had the hope that olives could be farmed. He has consulted on olive tree cultivation development programs, on scientific programs for olive trees, on arranging National olive plans and on genetic improvements both for Governments and private entities.

Olivicoltura Intensive & Meccanizzata

In 1994 he wrote an Italian book on modern olive tree cultivation titled “Olivicoltura Intensive & Meccanizzata”, published by Edagricole. This book was a great success and it was the first step towards the technologies we use today in olive farming. During his scientific activity he has published more than 100 papers regarding different subjects related to olive trees and the olive oil industry and has been an Author and co-Author of several books on the industry.

During his years of study & research, he noticed three very important factors and the actions he took towards those factors changed the industry forever and has brought the modern olive industry to where it is today.

About the Olive Industry

He noticed that the olive industry in all the developed countries was struggling to keep up with increasing labor costs, he noticed that some cultivars were much less vigorous than others and he noticed that despite a few excellent oils, the majority of the oils produced in the world were of low quality.

Thinking of reducing production costs through mechanization and looking for ways to minimize the waiting period of productivity he adopted a completely different shape for the trees, which he named it the “Monocone” shape. This shape that is also known as the “Central Leader” is now the most adopted shape in all new orchards.

Being a narrower shape, the monocone allowed doubling the amount of trees planted per acre and immediately cut in half the wait for production time. He named this type of farming “Semi-Intensive.”

Cross Breeding Program

In the meantime he had started a crossbreeding program using the lowest vigor, the most productive, the best oil producing and the most resistant cultivars aiming to breed new cultivars that could be picked with the Over the Row Harvester and farmed almost totally mechanically. He named this type of farming “Intensive”, now known also as “S-H-D”. During this time of research, he selected and crossbred hundreds of cultivars, which were kept under study for years seeking varieties that could produce fantastic oils at low costs.

It took many years and tons of exclusions before his first reward, the I-77, which is now known as Allegra, the second was a totally new cultivar, the Fs-17 which is now known as Favolosa, the third was also a new cultivar, the Don Carlo and the forth is Giulia, which soon will be available in the US.

His latest gift to the olive world has been the book “Il Dono di Minerva, Minerva’s Gift” which is a book in Italian and English that highlights the influence that olive trees has had on humanity all the way throughout history. Beautiful book!