Novaterra e Coppereplace: a more sustainable agriculture

Sogrape has always respected the locations where it operates, striving to use solutions aimed at minimising negative environmental impacts. Two different projects are currently underway, with the same goal of paving the way towards increasingly more sustainable agriculture.

NOVATERRA

Over the next four years, the NOVATERRA project aims to create a more comprehensive approach to the future of the agriculture business. The project’s purpose is to** reduce environmental pollution**, avoid damage to biodiversity and enhance the economic viability of Mediterranean farmers through precision agriculture, robotics, new protection products of natural origin and integrated soil and crop management strategies. Sogrape is the only Portuguese wine company in the project consortium. The project’s overall goal is to ensure food safety and access to a healthy diet for a growing population, without overlooking EU directives and priorities on the sustainable use of pesticides.

NOVATERRA will also improve training for the farmers involved in the Mediterranean region’s two main agricultural products, thereby helping to reduce educational inequalities between northern and southern European farmers. A practical and inclusive approach is proposed, based on case studies with a multivariate analysis of the use of biopesticides, adjuvants and innovative formulas, optimised intelligent agriculture techniques, robotics, new soil management strategies and a functional biodiversity assessment.

COPPEREPLACE

The second project where Sogrape plays a key role is called COPPEREPLACE, whose purpose is to reduce the use of copper in the vineyard. Although an essential nutrient for human beings, excessive exposure to copper can be harmful. The use of copper has been increasingly limited by regulations due to its potential to cause problems to the environment and human health (above all because of accumulation in the soil from continued use), which affects the principles of sustainable production.

The project’s overall goal is to test and implement new products and efficient strategies to reduce or replace the use of copper in vineyards, promote healthy soil through the elimination of accumulated copper, and create a system to manage economic and ecological winegrowing, thereby limiting the use of this element, which is toxic when in excess. Different alternatives will be compared to the use of copper in terms of efficient vine disease control and environmental impacts. Techniques will be tested to identify vulnerable soils, and strategies will be assessed for the recovery of soils contaminated by copper.

All of these techniques will be subsequently combined into an integrated vine protection strategy which will be used in field testing at partner vineyards in Portugal, Spain and France, under Sogrape's coordination, within the scope of biological and integrated farming methods. The results will be publicly and widely presented and demonstrated to the entire winemaking community of these countries, together with proposed contributions towards creating effective, science-based policies in accordance with the goals of the European Union and national authorities of southwestern Europe.