The Multi-Millennial Olive Agroecosystem of Salento (Apulia, Italy) Threatened by Xylella Fastidiosa Subsp. Pauca: A Working Possibility of Restoration
In Salento, the olive agro-ecosystem has lasted more than 4000 years, and represents an invaluable local heritage for landscape, trade, and social traditions. The quarantine bacterium Xylella fastidiosa subsp. pauca was introduced in the area from abroad and has been widely threatening olive groves in the area. The successful eradication of quarantine phytopathogens requires a prompt identification of the causative agent at the new site, a restricted infected area, a highly effective local organization for crop uprooting and biological features of the micro-organism that would guarantee its complete elimination. However, at the time of the first record, these criteria were not met. Interdisciplinary studies showed that a zinc-copper-citric acid biocomplex allowed a consistent reduction of field symptoms and pathogen cell concentration within infected olive trees. In this perspective article, it is briefly described the implementation of control strategies in some olive farms of Salento. The protocol includes spray treatment with the biocomplex during spring and summer, regular pruning of the trees and mowing of soil between February and April to reduce the juvenile of the insect vector(s). Thus far, more than 500 ha have begun to follow this eco-friendly strategy within the "infected" and "containment" areas of Salento.