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NOVATERRA and COPPEREPLACE: a more sustainable agriculture

NOVATERRA and COPPEREPLACE: a more sustainable agriculture

Sogrape has always respected the places where it operates and seeks to use solutions that minimise the negative impact on the environment. Two different projects, but with the same goal of paving the way for increasingly sustainable agriculture, are examples of this.


Over four years, the NOVATERRA project aims to create a more comprehensive approach to the future of agricultural activity. The project aims to reduce environmental pollution, prevent damage to biodiversity and improve the economic viability of Mediterranean farmers through the use of precision agriculture, robotics, new natural protection products and integrated soil and crop management strategies. Sogrape is the only Portuguese wine company in the project consortium. The overall aim of the project is to ensure food security and access to a healthy diet for a growing population, without neglecting the directives and priorities of the European Union regarding the sustainable use of pesticides.

NOVATERRA will also improve the level of training of farmers involved in the two main agricultural productions in the Mediterranean region, thus helping to reduce educational inequalities between farmers in northern and southern Europe. A practical and integrative approach is proposed, based on case studies with multivariate analysis on the use of innovative biopesticides, adjuvants and formulations, optimised smart farming techniques, robotics, new soil management strategies and the assessment of functional biodiversity.


The second project in which Sogrape played a key role is called COPPEREPLACE, which aimed to reduce the use of copper in the vineyard. Despite being an essential nutrient for humans, excessive use of copper can cause serious environmental problems. The use of copper has been increasingly restricted by regulations to limit impacts on the environment and human health (mainly due to accumulation in the soil caused by continued use), and its use needs to be managed on the basis of the principles of sustainable production, which combines minimal environmental impact with the economic viability of the farm. The overall aim of the project was to test and implement new products and effective strategies that reduce or replace the use of copper in vineyards, eliminate copper accumulated in the soil in order to promote soil health, and create an economical and ecological viticulture management system by limiting the use of this element, which is only toxic when in excess. Different alternative products were compared to the use of copper in terms of their effectiveness in controlling vine diseases and the level of environmental impact.

Techniques for identifying vulnerable soils were also tested and strategies for recovering copper-contaminated soils were evaluated. All the techniques were combined into an integrated vineyard protection strategy that was applied in field tests in vineyards in Portugal, Spain and France, under the coordination of Sogrape, within the scope of organic and integrated production methods. The results were presented and demonstrated publicly and widely to the entire wine-growing community in these countries, as well as proposed contributions to the creation of effective and scientifically-supported policies, in line with the objectives of the European Union and the national authorities of the South-West Europe region.

A European conference on solutions to the issue of copper in viticulture is in preparation.