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The enhancement of ecosystem services in the Soil4Wine project

What is the value of the environmental benefits generated by innovative practices?

The Soil4Wine LIFE+ project aims to improve soil management in the wine sector and to define tools and methodologies aimed at supporting its functions.

Demonstration activities are conducted in pilot vineyards located in the Provinces of Parma and Piacenza and within four protected natural areas: Parco dei Boschi di Carrega, Parco del Taro, Parco del Trebbia and Parco dello Stirone and Piacenziano.

In the vineyards of the demo farmers, located within or near the protected areas, a is used a DSS for sustainable wine management and are applied innovative cultivation techniques. The adoption of these tools and cultivation methods generates benefits for the community and the environment. These benefits represent real services.

So-called ecosystem services are defined as "the multiple benefits provided by ecosystems to the human race". These are services that nature offers to humans and, therefore, can have a market value.

A particularly innovative aspect of the SOIL4WINE project is the quantification of soil ecosystem services both from a biophysical and an economic point of view. Furthermore, feasibility studies are carried out for the implementation of Ecosystem Services Payment mechanisms, aimed at remunerating farmers for the environmental benefits generated by innovative practices.

In the framework of the project were identified 5 ecosystem services linked to innovative cultivation techniques: Protection from erosion, Water regulation, Carbon absorption, Biodiversity protection, Landscape quality. In fact, a sustainably managed vineyard:

  • reduces the amount of soil that is removed by meteoric waters, decreasing the predisposition to slope instability;
  • increases the amount of water that infiltrates the soil and is stored underground, expanding the underground water reserve;
  • increases the amount of carbon dioxide that is absorbed by the soil, reducing greenhouse gas emissions;
  • increases the number and consistency of animal species (eg micro arthropods) contained in the soil, improving the quality of habitats;
  • it is also better from the aesthetic point of view, improving the landscape and favoring the usability of the territories, also from the tourist point of view

To give some numerical examples, the demonstration activities in the first two years of the project have shown that sustainable viticulture leads to the following results:

  • 85% less eroded soil
  • 55% more water accumulated
  • 15% more CO2 absorbed

The project also allowed us to estimate the economic value of the ecosystem services analyzed:

  • Protection from erosion (€ 700 / ha per year)
  • Water regulation (€ 600 / ha per year)
  • Carbon absorption (€ 28 / ha per year)
  • Biodiversity protection (€ 57 / ha per year)
  • Landscape quality (€ 46 / ha per year)

The last year of the project will be focused on feasibility studies of payment mechanisms for ecosystem services, which will be both public (for example, redistribution of tourist tax revenue) and private (for example, supply chain enhancement).

Finally, will be evaluated the potential of transferability of SOIL4WINE methods and instruments to other agricultural productions.

Published on 12/04/2019
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