Study Site Trials

 The SICS selected for trialling in the Study Site are described below:

Country General Treatment Category Study Site Trials
Greece Cover crops, tillage, crop change

1. Soil erosion rate assessment - No till in organic olive orchards; Conventional till (15-20 cm) in organic olive orchards; Conversion from orange orchard to avocado; Conventional orange orchard; Cover crop (vetch) in organic vineyards; Bare soil in organic vineyards

Study Site poster 2018 (download)

Conversion from orange orchards to avocado  
OrangeGrove Avacado
No till and conventional till in organic olive orchards  
Olives1 Olives tilled
Bare soil and cover crop in organic vineyard  
Vineyard Vineyard covercrops


Geographical description

Crete is the largest of the Greek islands, and the 5th largest in the Mediterranean, with a total area of 8,265 km2. While retaining its own local cultural traits, the island shapes a significant part of the cultural heritage of Greece, but also contributes 5% of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP), with agriculture and tourism as its main industries.

Spatial distribution of soil erosion on the Island of Crete.

Pedo-climatic zone
Crete’s climate is classified as dry sub-humid (Csa according to Köppen and Geiger, Mediterranean South). About 53% of the annual precipitation occurs in the winter, 23% during autumn, 20% during spring while there is negligible rainfall during summer (Koutroulis and Tsanis, 2010). Annual rainfall ranges from 300 to 700 mm from east to west in the low areas along the coast, and from 700 to 1000 mm in the plains of the mainland, while in the mountainous areas it reaches up to 2000 mm. The annual water balance breaks down to 68-76% evapotranspiration, 14-17% infiltration and 10-15% runoff. Soils are mainly Calcisol.

Cropping systems

Cropping intensity
Almost 40% of the island is cultivated at various intensities depending on desired end product quality and intended market: e.g. olive trees can be non-irrigated (traditional/household use) or irrigated (modern/intense), vineyards may be conventional or organic, etc.

Types of crop
Agriculture is an important source of income, contributing to Crete’s GDP by 13%. Olive is the most important crop, cultivated on all soils and terrain slopes up to altitudes of about 900 m. Specifically for Chania, agricultural land is divided in 5 main crop categories: grapes 3%, trees 90% (olive trees 70%, other trees 20%), vegetables 2%, and other crops 5%.

Management of soil, water, nutrients and pests
Irrigation types on the island vary depending on crops and local water availability (e.g. olive trees are either regularly irrigated or not irrigated at all, orange groves are often waterlogged and vineyards are often drip irrigated). Fertilisation also varies (chemicals vs animal manure). Due to high ownership fragmentation and rough topography, management is seldom large scale, and crop picking is almost always traditional and labour intensive using minimal mechanical equipment.