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A composite index approach to support crop management in Italy

Farmers may experience variable interannual yields with associated agronomic and management costs, even if they are growing locally adapted crops. However, climate services can assist farmers in making the best decisions aimed at reducing the impacts of climate change, or in other words, managing the climate risk.

The IBE-CNR has been involved in the development of climate services for agriculture for a long time. In a recent study, the IBE-CNR developed an algorithm to identify a composite index that can summarise the risk of having exceptionally low yields due to the co-occurrence of multiple stressors. The study focused on olive yields and climate stressors in Italy as a pilot case, but the idea is easily transferable to other contexts. Specifically, for olive yields, the composite index showed how the occurrence of warm winters and early springs (Jan-Apr), followed by a cool late spring (May-Jun) and early autumn (Sep-Oct), have the highest negative impact on yields.

The authors suggest that improving the understanding of how interannual crop yields are modulated by seasonal local climate would enhance the development of actionable services to alert stakeholders of potential climate risks. Additionally, the composite risk approach could lay the groundwork for an integrated meteorological seasonal forecasting system that provides stakeholders with timely insights on factors affecting within-season yield development. This would enable farmers to schedule suitable agronomic practices to manage climate risks.

The full article can be read online at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jac.12636

Di Paola, A., Di Giuseppe, E., Gutierrez, A P., Ponti, L., & Pasqui, M. (2023). Climate stressors modulate interannual olive yield at province level in Italy: A composite index approach to support crop management. Journal of Agronomy and Crop Science, 00, 1– 14. https://doi.org/10.1111/jac.12636

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