Italian viticulture nowadays is facing multiple challenges which ask for innovative solutions. An online scenario workshop organized in the framework of the Agrilink project with farmers, advisors, researchers and policy makers of Northern Italy explored the future role of the advisory system in introducing new strategies for vineyard soil management.
Main challenges for all farmers pertain the environmental domain (SOM preservation, water use optimization, biodiversity enhancement) and the economic domain (to grant a constant income during climatically uncertain years). Calculation of environmental value of different vineyard management practices translated into transparent indicators can trigger farmers and civil society, and facilitate the proper quantification of ecosystem services. Frontrunners need multidimensional training, structured horizontal networks, independent trials and space for participatory research and demo activities. Mainstream farmers need to increase trust, through long term experiences, good examples, consumers’ awareness of farmers’ operations and their value.
A major problem with the current advisory system is its extreme fragmentation. Public action is rather weak and often far from real territory needs. Local experiences are often poorly shared and mainstream farmers are often neglected by advisory.
The situation can be improved by implementing a system for the identification of most urgent farmers’ demands. Universities could play a relevant role if their “third mission”, meaning extension, is triggered. Advisers (public and private) must build awareness of their strategic role and evolve an active attitude towards life-long-learning. The proactive role of farmers is crucial in needs identification and knowledge exchange.