My Olive Trees: Back To Basics.

Starting an olive orchard was never an easy task but the rewards are immense.

Olive trees were my second choice when I started my farm in 1995. When you try to be sustainable you have to take all elements in account. In semi-arid and arid areas like ours it is of utmost importance to take these factors into account. As I noted in my previous post(medium link: My pistachio trees) rain is scarce and precious. We roughly get 200 millimeters on a good year(in northern Syria) so eventually we need supplemental irrigation for the trees to pass the scorching,dry summers.

Growing barley between olive trees was one way of providing winter pasture for my sheep.

So when trees were planted at first we gave them initial watering through a water tank pulled by a tractor with two workers on each side dragon a plastic hose and watering our little trees one by one. That was a very tedious job.

After completing my annual planting plan I started installing drip irrigation system (my trees were spaced 8 by 8 meters apart) where each tree was irrigated by a nozzle on the plastic pipe that emits 8 liters per hour.

When it rains it brings a huge relief but as trees got older water was not enough.

Here I planted Alfalfa to provide a high protein feed. Covering tree trunks to guard against sheep scraping them.

I gained additional water rights so I installed a movable sprinkler irrigation system to give 2 to 3 irrigation a year besides the drip system and that worked fine. But I wanted to reap the benefits of every drop. Instead of tilling I took a decision to introduce Awassi sheep(in Arabic أغنام العواس) as a biological control method for grasses and weeds. That is said I had a problem with them scraping the tree trunks so with additional shepherds and covering the trunks temporarily with sacks that helped a bit.

Sweet sorghum(An Australian import) my other choice for pasture.

On one field I had additional water available so I added an Alfalfa pasture that proved to be very vital to cut on feed costs. I also tried a Sweet Sorghum variety( An Australian import) that provided summer feed.

Olive trees are cold,heat and drought tolerant but respond well to supplemental irrigation.

So in combining trees,sheep,pasture and barley+wheat I had a diversified farm that was as sustainable as much as possible with other stories to come.

An Awassi ram at my farm.