Georgofili World

Newsletter of the Georgofili Academy


Food Factor I Barcelona Conference, 2016-11-02, 2016-11-04, Barcelona

Mediterranean Forum on Water Resources (MFWR), 2015-10-18, 2015-10-22, Matera

Designing a Resilient Future: Food, Technology, and Sustainable Development, 2015-05-20, 2015-05-20, Milano

Coping with climate change and water scarcity in Africa and Europe: Improving monitoring and water use efficiency in agriculture, 2015-06-17, 2015-06-17, Milano

Biodiversity and diversity of forms: the new geometry of urban green, 2015-05-08, 2015-05-08, Florence

The cultivation of orrises in Tuscany

Native or exotic? A widespread and often useless debate

The debate on the choice between exotic and native species has always been rather heated but often excessively simplified (native “good”, exotic “bad”). In particular, it is not supported by scientific evidence. This is especially true for parks and gardens in urban areas. The concept of native, strictly speaking, in an alien environment like that of our cities, does not make sense, therefore it seems appropriate to reconcile controversial positions and have an objective, rational approach rather than a subjective, empathetic and emotional one, as often happens.
First of all, the meaning of exotic should be made clear. In our common sense we associate this word with tropical and equatorial countries when, in fact, from the etymological point of view, the word derives from the Greek, exotikos, which in turn derives from exo, outside. It should refer to anything originating or being imported from other regions that are not necessarily warm and/or equatorial.

Bayer to Acquire Monsanto for $66B

Is your football team playing badly? It may be air pollution. And what's happening to plants?

Football fans have thousands of reasons to justify the, at times, lackluster athletic performances of their idols. Apart, obviously, from “conspiracy theories” and referee plots, they range from the size and state of the pitch, the color of the t-shirts, the bouncing capacity of the ball, and other theories. A recent article published in The Guardian  has introduced a new element: air pollution.  In fact, a group of German researchers has analyzed the correlations between air quality outside Bundesliga football pitches and player performance by counting successful passes and the conclusions are worrying. 
Toxic substances, even below the threshold allowed by environmental regulations, are responsible for significant reductions in the parameters chosen.

Bioeconomy: an important driving force for economic and industrial revival

The world’s population is bound to increase further. It is estimated that there will be at least 9 billion people by 2050 and that agricultural production will have to rise by at least 70% to feed them. At the same time, some of the traditional, non-renewable commodities are starting to run out. It is estimated that we currently consume natural resources as if we had at our disposal a planet and a half and that if the whole world consumed the same amount of natural resources as the average of the OECD countries, it would be as if we had three planets instead of one. One possible solution is represented by greater and better development of biological and renewable resources to produce greater quantities of higher quality foods and fodder, but also chemical and fuels thus guaranteeing food safety and quality, reduced environmental pollution and climate change as well as new market and employment opportunities. 
Bioeconomy’s priorities include agriculture, forestry, sustainable fishing and aquaculture, food safety and quality, paper and forest production, bioindustry and biorefineries, and the management and promotion of marine resources and internal waters. Bioeconomy is an important pillar of the European economy, with an annual turnover of 2.1 trillion euro and about 20 million jobs, and of the Italian economy, with an annual turnover  of about 250 billion euro and 2 million jobs.

Climate change and fruit-bearing trees in temperate climates

European fruit-farming is mainly concentrated in Mediterranean countries, with most of the cultivars currently grown needing between 600-700 and 1000-1200 hours of winter cold (conventionally computed from October to February below 7.2°C), in line with the normal climate trend. With the progressive rise in winter temperatures that has accelerated in the last few years, cold weather is more and more frequently registered as no more than 500-600 hours, making again relevant a problem that had seemed resolved.
In the 1950s and 60s, many peach cultivars, mainly introduced from the United States (Georgia, Michigan, and New Jersey), had problems in southern Italy with their need for cold with the subsequent early drop of flower buds. The problem for this species was overcome following the importation of cultivars mainly from California and, for the milder southern areas, from Florida, two states whose climates are very similar to that of southern Italy.
The on-going climate change and the current distribution of fruit-farming, of apricot trees especially and of cherry trees in part in southern Italy (Basilicata and Sicily, in particular), is actually presenting the problem of environmental adaptability of various cultivars of these species.

Organic agriculture cannot save us. Genome editing can.

Direct and indirect damage by the emerald ash borer (AGRILUS PLANIPENNIS)

The damage caused by the emerald ash borer is not linked just to felling trees, transporting them to special dumps and replanting, but also to health problems that may worsen because of tree loss. Recent research has highlighted effects on health and wellbeing that further increase the problem. In fact, there has been increased mortality connected to cardiovascular and lower respiratory system diseases in the areas infested by this insect. The magnitude of this problem will increase as the infection has advanced and has appeared more striking in areas inhabited by people with an above average household income. In the 15 US states where research was carried out, the damage caused by the beetle have been linked to 6113 deaths caused by diseases of the lower respiratory tract and 15,080 deaths as a consequence of cardiovascular problems. 
For these reasons, the emerald ash borer clearly represents a real threat not only with regard to the landscape of a continent and because of the direct and indirect costs, but also a public health problem at a level that could become global. Managing this pest therefore requires maximum cooperation between the countries involved and those that soon may be. Epidemics, even in the plant world, are like a fire: a small fire can be controlled, but when it blazes up, it is almost impossible to extinguish, as the numbers go up exponentially.

Opening of Georgofili Academy’s 263rd year

On Friday, 8 April 2016, in the Salone dei Cinquecento in Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, the opening ceremony for the Georgofili Academy’s 263rd year took place.
President Giampiero Maracchi developed a report entitled: “Scenari del futuro” (Future Scenarios).
The opening address was made by Luca Lazzaroli, Director General of the European Investment Bank, on the topic of “Rilanciare la crescita e la competitività in Europa. L'azione della Banca Europea per gli Investimenti” (Re-Launching Growth And Competitiveness in Europe. The European Investment Bank’s Intervention)
After awarding the 2016  Antico Fattore Prize and the Prosperitati Publicae Augendae Prize, the international section of the Georgofili Academy gave special recognition to  the “Manifesto dei Giovani”, a young people’s manifesto, sponsored by the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition Foundation, which contains suggestions for solving the paradoxes of the food system.

Following are some excerpts from the speech by Giampiero Maracchi, president of the Georgofili Academy. 

1. The world in crisis
The starting point is to acknowledge the fact that the world is in crisis, a structural crisis that concerns climate and environment because, for twenty years, we have used more resources that those available. We have huge problems disposing of garbage and soil has lost fertility. This crisis has also been determined by the unbalanced relationship between urban and rural centers: just think of Shanghai, with its 25 million people. Besides the environmental crisis, there also exists a serious political crisis for which the classical scheme of politics controlling the economy has been inverted with multinationals now in control. Added to this is a crisis of values. In fact, a totally free market does not work. An over-dependence on oil and the wars for oil have disastrous consequences that are there for all to see.

Drought emergency in Italy: measures to cope with water scarcity in agriculture

As regards the cultivation techniques, the strategies should be aimed primarily at: reducing and/or avoiding soil-stored water losses due to direct evaporation or transpiration; improving water  productivity; and reducing the period of unfavorable weather conditions during crop growth.

UE-US Transatrantic Trade and Investments Partnership negotiations focusing on agriculture

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a proposed free trade agreement between the European Union (EU) and the United States of America (US). It was expected that the agreement would be finalized by the end of 2014, but it has been rescheduled for 2016. The topics under discussion are divided into three broad areas: Market access; Specific regulation; and broader rules and principles and modes of co-operation. Specific regulation includes an Agriculture regulation which is the focus of the present contribution.
In fact achieving foods and nutrition security today and for a world population that will number more 9 billion and be 70% urbanized by 2050 is a key global challenge. In order to resolve this problem and to tackle other relevant problems after a failure of Doha round negotiations UE and US initiated TTIP. The  main goal of TTIP is to stimulate the import and export of goods and services, by reducing trade barriers between both sides of the Atlantic . From many years ago EU-US disputed for trade agreements and agriculture policies particular accusing each other to distort economy by subsidizing agricultures sector which can interpret as protectionism. Both sides had a lot of discussion at the WTO level, and agriculture sector is still unresolved problem. Despite of failures of Doha round negotiations, it has been said that TTIP agreements is full of opportunities.

Climate and diet

Sustainable productivity increase of plant proteins

At the beginning of the new millennium, 4.5 million hectares in the EU were cultivated with rapeseed, sunflowers, and soya beans and, based on the reduction of the aid provided by Agenda 2000 for the sector, the European Commission foresaw a contraction of about 700,000 hectares (in particular, the predicted decreases in production for 2006 were -50% for soya beans, -12% for rapeseed, and -10% for sunflowers).
Starting in 2003, oilseeds in Italy have undergone a significant contraction. For agronomical and environmental reasons, a drastic reduction of area for oil-seeds has resulted in an unacceptable simplification of crop rotations involving serious repercussions on the more typical cropping systems.

What is a green city?

Before proceeding to answer this question, a few terms must be defined. First, even if the specific challenges that the city centers are facing are often highlighted in articles, the term "city" generally refers to a broader metropolitan area. For example, "Milan" represents the large metropolitan area surrounding the city, not just the city lying within the city limits. The same applies to other major cities in different parts of the world, such as Chicago, London, Tokyo, São Paulo, etc.
A metropolitan area is made up of a central area containing a substantial population nucleus, together with adjacent communities having a high degree of economic and social integration with that nucleus. Metropolitan areas may therefore include several cities/urban agglomerations. Focusing on metropolitan areas makes sense because the majority of people and jobs are concentrated in metropolitan areas (over 50% worldwide and 70% in Europe), but outside of the proper “center”.
Defining a "green" metropolis is a more difficult task. Most of us have an intuitive sense of what defines a green city, like Portland, Oregon, as compared to urban centers defined as "gray", like Mexico City.
Apart from having cleaner air, green cities also encourage "green behaviors", like the use of public transport, with their environmental impact being relatively low so as, in some cases, to almost arrive at zero impact. Can this definition of a green city be translated into objective indicators of urban environmental quality?

Will a fungus save us from the ailanthus invasion?

Four new sites designated Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems for innovation, sustainability and adaptability

“Global Warming is not an opinion. Common sense is needed”

Soil degradation in Italy

Soil degradation is a major environmental problem worldwide, and there is strong evidence that the soil degradation processes are an immediate threat to both biomass and economic returns, as well as a long-term threat to future crop yields. The vulnerability of the European soils to the degradation processes is certainly high and it strongly increases in the Italian soils due to the higher variability of the environment.
21.3% of the national soil cover is at risk of desertification (41.1% of centre and south Italy).
Main soil degradation processes are erosion, flooding and landslides, losses of organic matter, sealing, aridity, contamination and salinization following the impact of human activities. 
Soil degradation during the last 40 years caused a decrease of about 30% in their water holding capacity and a proportional shortening of the return time of catastrophic events.
Soil degradation has also caused an impairment of several other eco-services, e.g., quality of foods and landscape. 

At the European level the estimated costs of some aspects of the soil degradation can be the following:
erosion: 0.7 – 14.0 billion €,
organic matter decline: 3.4 – 5.6 billion €,
salinisation: 158 – 321 million €,
landslides: up to 1.2 billion € per event,
contamination: 2.4 – 17.3 billion €,

Since agricultural conventional production systems have resulted in excessive erosion and soil degradation, there is need to control and fight such degradation.
Scientific results have clearly showed that the agricultural management systems can play an important role in preventing soil degradation provide that appropriate management practices are adopted. Long-term field experiments in different types of soils have shown that alternative tillage systems, like minimum tillage, ripper subsoiling, etc., improve the soil structural quality.

Climate summit, a festival of slogans

At a first reading, the draft document from the Paris Conference on Climate Change does not show appreciable change from the twenty previous documents produced by the earlier conferences. Were we to make a pithy summary of the impressions one gets from the text, I would define it a “festival of slogans” filled with many good intentions yet without a real approach to the problem of climate change.
Perhaps, if the representatives of the participating countries had fully implemented Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato si’, then the conference would have been a real step forward towards solving one of the third millennium’s crises.
The document, however, beyond its form in a brilliantly obscure and vague bureaucratese, has been divided into the usual mitigating chapters, namely, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by limiting the rise in temperature to 2°C and adaptation, i.e., the measures for becoming accustomed to the changes under way in the various parts of the world, things that have been repeated at all the conferences. Emissions continue to rise and world oil consumption has doubled since the 1980s. If this is the situation, the course adopted so far has not worked; therefore there should be a clear change of direction. But in what sense? Clearly defining the framework of the global crisis in which the climate change is taking place and which arises from the overuse of long-haul transport for goods and people linked to globalization, industrial technologies that use too much energy,  and the too limited use of renewable energies that do not serve the prevailing interests.

Paleosols, soils and climate change

Paleosols are an important source of information for documenting the changes that took place in the past, especially as regards the climate. In addition, they can be used in models that seek to predict how the earth’s system will react in the future to the changing environmental conditions. A central objective of paleopedology is to reconstruct how the climate changed during the geological eras.
A paleosol complex was found at Podere Renieri in Montalcino (Siena). About 40 m thick, it was formed during a series of continental episodes that began after marine sediments were deposited during the Pliocene starting at 4.8 My BP. The paleosol documents climate changes and soil formations that took place since the Lower Pliocene in central Italy, along the Mediterranean coast.
Podere Renieri’s most characteristic soil horizons are those containing plinthite, a partially hardened soil rich in iron whose formation took place in a hot and humid climate over about 700,000 years during the Lower Pliocene. This soil formation was also greatly influenced by the geomorphological position of the paleosol, at that time located on an alluvial fan near the coast. The climate conditions during the Pliocene were much hotter and more humid than nowadays, and the time needed for plinthite formation was rather short, not more than one or two hundred thousand years. Podere Renieri’s morphology of plinthite-containing horizons however shows that from the middle of the Lower Pliocene, rainfall started to give clear signs of seasonality as a result of the onset of a Mediterranean-type climate along the western coast of Italy.

Pessimism does not help

At the closing session of the series of meetings organized at Expo 2015 by Intesa San Paolo, Prof. Jared Diamond from the University of California, 1997 Pulitzer Prize winner, paused over environmental sustainability and the growing gap between the rich and the poor both within individual countries and all over the planet. The press appeared to have understood a strong pessimism, reporting with scaremongering headlines the opinion that we are heading towards the extinction of the entire human race and that the only possible defense is to reduce consumption.
It is only right and proper to make us aware of the risks that are looming over our survival. They are many and include, for example, air pollution and climate change, the disastrous food insecurity and water shortages, the geopolitical confusion and insane abuses that lead to conflicts with ever more devastating weapons, moral disorder that spreads lawlessness, organized crime, corruption, etc., destroying common sense and reason. The risks created by these realities must not however lead to a destructive overall pessimism and inactivity, but rather stimulate our strength of mind to seek new positive ideas, not related to past ideologies based on rules that create poverty.
There are certainly many reasons of concern on which to reflect. But there is no longer time for ideological fights and political disputes. We must make use of past experiences and common sense. While easy manifestations of pessimism, although authoritative and directed at getting attention, can only increase the already widespread distrust of so many people who are by now tired and defeatist (see the decreasing number of election votes).

Urban trees and carbon dioxide sequestration

It is now well known that trees sequester and store CO2 by fixing carbon in permanent forms of biomass. The amount of gas exchange between a tree and the atmosphere changes depending on the age and health status of the tree itself, but the overall net balance of a patch of vegetation in equilibrium with the surrounding environment can be considered stable in time. This balance, however, is altered by man through some factors such as the increase of fossil fuel emissions and the relationship between the crop and the utilization of biomass. In this regard, the peri-urban forests, city parks and gardens, serving as CO2 sinks, play a vital role in combating the rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
For these reasons, the managers of urban green areas are considering whether projects of planting trees in urban areas can be financed through the carbon market (Carbon Trading is a market based mechanism for helping mitigate the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere.  Carbon trading markets are developed that bring buyers and sellers of carbon credits together with standardized rules of trade), especially since it is now a market internationally accredited and somewhat preferred by the buyers (Poudyal et al. 2011). The biggest concern about the projects on planting trees in urban areas and the question we should answer is whether these projects are cost-efficient investments.
A better understanding of how the variables predominantly affect the efficiency of these programs could help in understanding if we can intervene with the management decisions to improve the project or if uncontrollable variables such as climate, play a major role in determining the potential for integration of such projects in the carbon credits markets.
For urban green managers it is also important to know how to create potentially new and more efficient projects in terms of cost; even if the projects will not reach the market, these studies are of great interest to government agencies that voluntarily seek to minimize emissions of the entire community by also making a budget of carbon allowances produced and emitted.

Genetic makeup of thousands of rice varieties placed in global seed data pool

On the need and the possibilities to reduce water use in agriculture

Agriculture is the economic activity with the highest water demand. Worldwide it uses about 70% of the available water resources, percentage largely overcome in the developing countries (FAO, 2006).The water use efficiency is approximatively equal or even lower  than 50%. In addition, actual water availability in agriculture is expected to decrease in the next few years due to the increasing competition with domestic and industrial uses and climate changes. 
In addition, due to the continuous increase of the world population and the marked increase in water demand, mainly in emerging countries, to meet the demand for food over the next three decades,  food production will need to rise by 70% (FAO, 2013).

Mass propagation of giant reed (Arundo donax L.), an invasive species suitable for biomass production

Carbon Footprint of a pale lager

ENEA Introduces Italy’s First Vertical Farm: Agriculture 3.0 has arrived

Florence meets Morocco: Jakob Gråberg från Hemsö and the “Antique Mauretania Tingitana”

In 1834 in Genoa, the presses of the Pellas printing works produced theSpecchio geografico, e statistico dell’impero di Marocco by Jakob Gråberg från Hemsö.
The book was dedicated to His Royal and Imperial Highness Leopold II, Grand Duke of Tuscany and summarized, although with additions and notes, the writings previously published in the review Antologia del Vieusseux and the five memoirs that Gråberg had sent to the Georgofili (as a correspondent member) from 1829 to 1833 about the “Ancient Mauretania Tingitana”, that is: Alcuni cenni dell’agricoltura nell’Impero di Marocco (An Outline of Agriculture in the Moroccan Empire), 2 August 1829;   Descrizione dell’aratro di cui si fa uso nell’Impero del Marocco (A Description of the Plough used in the Moroccan Empire), 7 February 1830;  Della pastorizia nell’impero di Marocco (On Sheep Farming in the Moroccan Empire), 7 March 1830; Cenni orografici e geologici dello impero di Marocco (An Orographic and Geologic Outline of the Moroccan Empire), 5 December 1830; Prospetto del commercio del Marocco e sue relazioni con i popoli dell’Italia (Statement on Morocco’s commerce and its relationships with the peoples of Italy), 4 August 1833. 
Gråberg från Hemsö (Gannarve, Sweden 1776-Florence 1847) was a man in and of the world. His vast erudition and voracious “curiosity” spurred him, from an early age, not only to study languages (he knew Greek, Latin, French, English, German, and Italian as well as Arabic to perfection), ancient history, sacred history, geography, statistics, natural history, architecture, mechanics, mathematics, astronomy, but also to embark on a naval career, sailing all the seas and oceans. 
Once he stopped working at sea and settled in Genoa, his experience enabled him to publish a pocket marine dictionary in English and Italian, which was very successful and had numerous reprints in Genoa, Leghorn, Florence and Messina.

IUFRO Tree Biotechnology 2015 Conference

There is a growing worldwide demand for wood and biomass in response to the needs of the society (paper, energy, etc.), and therefore we are witnessing an increase in forest plantations of high productivity (e.g. poplar and eucalyptus). The latest developments in biotechnology applications will contribute to meeting the global demands of the society by helping to preserve the natural forests and reducing deforestation of large forest areas important for the ecosystem preservation.
The IUFRO Tree Biotechnology Conference is held every two years and is the official meeting of the IUFRO Working Group 2.04.06 (Molecular biology of forest trees). The year 2015 is the thirtieth anniversary of its initial gathering in 1985 in the U.S. (Avon Lake, Ohio), and for the first time organized in Italy, returning to Europe after 8 years. 
This conference has brought together academics, scientists, public and private institutions of international, national and regional, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders to discuss all aspects of biotechnology and biosafety of forest trees. 
The “IUFRO Tree Biotechnology” has offered a unique opportunity to share information and experiences, and to engage in an open and meaningful dialogue on the state of research.
The main theme of the conference was “Forests: the importance to the planet and society” and how to preserve it in the light of global climate change to meet the growing demands of society for sustainable resources, renewable energy and biomass production.

Agriculture, soil management and prevention of hydrogeological instability – the farmer’s role

The correct management of agricultural and forestry land is fundamental for maintaining the environmental and climate balance at both local and global level and for reducing the risk of hydrogeological instability.
Farmers have always played a positive role in the Community, producing food and preserving the environment.
The agricultural sector is facing major challenges: producing more food to guarantee global food security and ensuring greater sustainability in the sector in the future. Against the backdrop of climate change, farmers are being asked to make additional efforts towards broad mitigation and adaptation actions. The challenges facing the sector will only be able to be met with more agriculture and more farmers and, in particular, by way of the family-farming model.
We need to recognize the value of farmers as ‘custodians’, for their multi-functional activities and the way they protect the land, and take into account the central role played by the economic sustainability of agricultural holdings. 
Strong opposition is needed to land consumption and the abandonment of marginal agricultural areas and more focus must be placed on research and innovation. We also need investments which help to develop mechanisms to encourage farmers and their families to apply best practices. Here, new European instruments under the second pillar of the CAP could provide an important incentive. However, the benefits of greening are less clear and it seems instead simply to put at risk the already fragile economic situation on farms.

Biodiversity and its Preservation

Biodiversity is a hymn to the comprehensive meaning of the nature that surrounds humankind and which we have been called to admire, use, improve, and preserve for ourselves and future generations. The beauty, harmony, and complexity of this world and its landscapes have been cherished, portrayed, and enriched by human works. Poets, painters, scientists, singers, and even simple tourists have sought out the most fabulous landscapes that, unfortunately, are more often at risk because of the human interventions that, knowingly or not, cause serious damage to nature's beauties. 
Biodiversity gives life continuity as it permits ecosystems to adapt, overcoming the changes of natural events by ensuring a population’s fitness or biological success and its ability to synchronize with environmental changes over space and time by protecting ecosystems from the damage caused by changes in the environment. The plant and animal species populating an ecosystem have as a common characteristic harmony with the environment and they influence each other. However, their complexity lets them adapt to a variety of climates and pathogens as well as to their own and human dietary need, and have a positive relation to the ecosystem’s productivity as they use completely different resources.

New canopy management practices for Tuscan Sangiovese vineyards

A challenging job: plant pathology in the urban environment

According to Agrios (2005), “Plant pathology is a science that studies plant diseases and attempts to improve the chances for survival of plants when they are faced with unfavorable environmental conditions and parasitic microorganisms that cause disease”. So, it is a discipline that has a practical and noble goal of protecting the food (quantity and quality) available for humans and animals. Nowadays to this crucial task at least another mission must be added: “to ensure the presence of well performing and safe plants (especially trees) in our cities”. This is because plant diseases, by their presence, menace the survival of the plants, shorten their life expectancy and make them dangerous in the urban environment representing a limiting factor for citizen’s security.
At world level, far more than 50% of human beings currently live in an urban area and at least 70% will live there in the year 2050. Cities are similar to an organism in that they consume resources from their surroundings and excrete wastes. Urbanization concentrates people, materials and energy into relatively small geographical areas (cities and towns are estimated to be less than a mere 3% of the total land of our planet), whose environmental conditions are often critical. Quality of life in cities relies on a range of components, such as social equity, income and welfare, housing, social relations and education and a healthy environment. The environmental elements for an adequate quality of life include good air quality, low noise levels, clean and sufficient water, fair urban design with sufficient and high-quality public and green spaces, and a good local climate or opportunities to adapt to climate change. Urban trees provide a number of important (but not easily quantified) aesthetic, economic, and psychological benefits (“ecosystem services”) for humans. They increase property values, promote tourism, provide educational opportunities, encourage healthy life styles and outdoor activities, improve the visual appeal of urban areas, mitigate stress and encourage biological diversity. But trees, just as all other plants, may be sick and attacked by biotic and abiotic stress factors, and a diseased tree may represent an intolerable risk factor for human welfare.

EXPO, the unbearable “burden of sustainability”

Fine, let us introduce the right to food in the constitution, as long as it does not have the same fate as the balanced state budget which ended up in the constitution too but only in writing…. Whereas with the approach of Expo, the torrent, the deluge of yapping and rhetoric is becoming almost unbearable. 
For those people though who – like us – are always rooting for their country, it is worth putting up with them as long as everything ends for the best. As they say in English: my country, right or wrong. In any case, it is undoubtedly hard. We have not yet understood if, in Milan, we will send our best foods and wines to strut down the runway or we will explain how to nurture our planet by using less chemicals, water, etc. In which case, we should also talk about GMOs without incurring religious wars and maybe – as Professor Romano Prodi has invited us to do – think about investing more in agriculture research. Because it is okay to want to feed and water the world but maybe we should focus more on how to produce more cereals, cultivate semi-arid lands, produce meat without destroying the soil and subsoil and grow fruit varieties that are more adaptable to the various climates and more resistant to pathogen attacks and less on culatello ham and Amarone wine. 

Life Cycle of Olive Husks and and Environmental Impact of Management Options

Climate, alarm for the USA: “by the end of the century, there will be an epochal drought with severe consequences”

Food and sustainability. The Problem.

The World Total Biocapacity is 1.78 global hectare  (gha) per capita (Italy is 1). The Footprint Network  calculates that the current World Ecological Footprint of Consumption is 2.7 gha per capita: 1,5 times more resources than the Earth can provide. In case of business-as-usual scenario (BAU) in only 15 years the Humanity will need two Earths to survive. That is unsustainable.
In 2030 we will be 8 billion and F.A.O. projects that by 2050 we will be about 10 billion, 3 more than today, for which we need to produce additional food in a quantity that we ate in the last 6000 years. 149 million km2  is the total land area of the world, of which 30% is used for agriculture. UN estimate that we lose 23 ha per minute (12 Mha/year) because of degradation and desertification, an area where we could produce 20Mt cereals each year. Restoring just 12% of the world’s degraded agricultural land could feed 200 million people by 2030, while also strengthening climate resilience and reducing emissions. 

The Teachings of Expo 2015

In a few weeks, our country will proudly inaugurate Expo Milano 2015. Its seat was chosen at a world level, with Milan intelligently sending off the proposal to dedicate the exhibition to the specific theme of “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”. A multitude of visitors is expected because all the countries involved are committed to confronting this essential problem that concerns all humankind.
In the international climate we are about to experience, this great event may lead us to contemplating and even regaining our optimism. Each one will be able to participate in a wide-ranging, sensible, and practical dialogue on the most advanced techniques available to increase production, optimize resource use, and preserve the renewable biosphere of areas under cultivation.

Soil Protection and expected climate change

Pomegranates: a potential industrial crop with nutraceutical value

Pomegranates are mainly cultivated in areas with a Mediterranean climate, but tests carried out in Emilia Romagna have shown that the crop’s distributional area can also be extended to northern areas, using the right germ plasm. The interest in this species has been spurred by the fruit’s nutraceutical quality and the plant’s hardy nature that also adjusts to marginal areas.