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LIFE Natural Agro

Toxic-free crop protection

LIFE Natural Agro

The NATURAL AGRO project was awarded funding from the LIFE Programme's 2022 call for Standard Action Projects and is planned to run for five years, involving 3 partner countries: France, Italy, and Portugal.

The project's objective is to advance European viticulture towards more efficient, sustainable, and toxic-free crop protection by reducing and potentially eliminating the use of xenobiotic compounds in plant protection products (PPPs). One of the primary goals is to develop and evaluate two target-specific formulations for Downy Mildew (DM) and Grapevine Trunk Diseases (GTD) using carbonated hydroxyapatite and natural oil blends with very low or no copper content.

The aim is to achieve copper-reduced formulations with concentrations decreased from current levels of 3.5% to 0% (completely copper-free). Consequently, the partners will demonstrate the efficacy of these PPPs on a wider scale by conducting a multi-locational trial across living labs and vineyards in Italy, France, and Portugal. The final result will be the full development and qualification of two PPP formulations for commercial introduction.

VITEPIU’ a partner in the Life Natural Agro consortium, is responsible for developing the Agritech aspect of our Life project, which involves providing vineyards with sensor-equipped control units. The goal is to collect data on plant vegetative stress caused by both diseases and climatic conditions and to analyze the collected data.

We acknowledge the work done by VITEPIU’ in collaboration with NDG over the past few months.

In recent weeks, VITEPIU’ and NDG have intensified meetings with wineries interested in the LIFE NATURAL AGRO project, directly involving the owners to identify the six Italian wineries participating. These wineries are located in the central-northern regions of Italy, from Tuscany to Friuli Venezia Giulia, passing through Veneto.

During the meetings, the details of vineyard operations were carefully evaluated, gathering information on agronomic practices and the technical means and equipment used for treatments. The main objective was to select companies compatible with the project, given its five-year duration, to test and directly dose the innovative products in the vineyard using company resources, thus following a holistic approach in experimentation.

During field visits to the vineyards involved in the experimentation, a state-of-the-art control unit has already been installed to collect climatic data and take photos of the vineyards intended to be treated with LIFE products. It is equipped with cutting-edge sensors for monitoring vegetative growth and a leaf simulator for temperature measurement, microclimate around it, and leaching following rainfall.

By mid-February, all preparatory operations for the start of field activities will be completed. The data collected by the control units will be processed by a Decision Support System (DSS), vite.net, developed by Horta Srl, which will assist wineries in optimizing timings, dosages, and application methods of these innovative products within a defense protocol. On-farm trials will see an integration of tradition and innovation, with farm practices supported by IT information from advanced tools.

In the coming weeks, ASTRA, a testing center supporting the activities, will deliver the products and their application protocols to the selected companies.

For further information visit: naturalagro – naturalagro (lifenaturalagro.eu)

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Natural Agro is Co-funded by the European Union

Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

Published on 02/28/2024
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