Effect of macronutrient fertilization on olive oil composition and quality under irrigated, intensive cultivation management

Isaac Zipori*, Uri Yermiyahu, Arnon Dag, Ran Erel, Alon Ben-Gal, Liu Quan, Zohar Kerem

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Intensive olive (Olea europaea L.) orchards are fertilized, mostly with the macronutrients nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). The effects of different application levels of these nutrients on olive oil composition and quality were studied over 6 years in a commercial intensively cultivated ‘Barnea’ olive orchard in Israel. RESULTS: Oil quality and composition were affected by N, but not P or K availability. Elevated N levels increased free fatty acid content and reduced polyphenol level in the oil. Peroxide value was not affected by N, P or K levels. The relative concentrations of palmitoleic, linoleic and linolenic fatty acids increased with increasing levels of N application, whereas that of oleic acid, monounsaturated-to-polyunsaturated fatty acid ratio and oleic-to-linoleic ratio decreased. CONCLUSION: These results indicate that intensive olive orchard fertilization should be carried out carefully, especially where N application is concerned, to avoid a decrease in oil quality due to over-fertilization. Informed application of macronutrients requires leaf and fruit analyses to establish good agricultural practices, especially in view of the expansion of olive cultivation to new agricultural regions and soils.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)48-56
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
Issue number1
StatePublished - 15 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Journal of The Science of Food and Agriculture published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Society of Chemical Industry.


  • fertilization
  • nitrogen
  • oil quality
  • olive
  • phosphorus
  • potassium


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