EU Life Agrowetlands II project: mitigating salinity can give a new face to agriculture in Ravenna

Ravenna, 18 june 2020The Promosagri survey shows that the support of advanced technology tools for water management would give the sector a new chance, to improve the production situation and invest in more valuable horticultural crops

The first results were presented this afternoon during a webinar organized by Promosagri – Cooperative Agricole Braccianti di Ravenna of the EU project Agrowetlands II. 

Officially launched in autumn 2016, the project coordinated byUniversità di Bologna and co-financed by LIFE Program 2014 - 2020 aims to create an innovative and easy to use system for correct irrigation management through a Precision Farming tool, SMART AGROWETLANDS, to be introduced in agro-ecosystems of Mediterranean wetlands particularly exposed to soil depletion due to the salinization. 

In the context of AGROWETLANDS II, Promosagri has the task of evaluating thesocio-economic impact of adequate solutions for farmers of agricultural funds subject to this problem.

"In recent years in the province of Ravenna there have been salinity damage probably related to anthropogenic activities that have polluted the irrigated water of canals, with important consequences on arboreal and valuable crops such as seed beets and tomatoes", explains the director of Promosagri Massimo Bondi.

Based on the results of specific questionnaires administered by Promosagri to 25 representative companies of the territory, the influence of soil salinity on the producers' crop choices is clear: "In areas characterized by this phenomenon - explains Bondi - the cultivation of cereals is privileged spring sowing (44.5%), autumn winter cereals (24.56%) and fodder crops (22.08%). Legumes represent 8.36% of the land while only a small percentage relates to more particular crops, of the 'salty-tolerant horticultural' category such as salicornia, thistle and firm salsola. However - he continues - when asked which cultivation would be privileged if salinity problems could be curbed, about 60% of the interviewees would opt for the cultivation of vegetables; of these 72% would prefer tomato and pea equally; 18% green beans and spinach and 9% would plant a vineyard ".

Controlling salinity would therefore make it possible to introduce more profitable crops: in this regard, 71% of the interviewees estimate a potential growth in Gross Salable Production (PLV) between 10% and 30%, 5.9% believe that the The increase could be between 30% and 50% while only 23.5% limits the increase in yield to a maximum of 10%.

Although two interesting examples have emerged of companies that have made soil salinity an added value for their productions, such as the reality that has found optimal conditions for thistle production in sandy marine soils, in general it is a problem and that deserves to be studied in depth to identify suitable cultivation techniques / systems. 

This concludes Bondi: “It is no coincidence that the most advanced and ambitious companies have shown themselves willing to collaborate in further research also by investing their own resources. This must make us reflect and act accordingly by working together so that the issue of safeguarding productivity in this type of terrain is integrated into the Focus Areas provided by the RDP (Emilia-Romagna Rural Development Plan) ".

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