IJUP-EWSENSOR

IMPACT

Adopting Nature-based solutions

DESCRIPTION

Practices which promote the balance of ecosystems are extremely important in preserving the biodiversity of vineyard soils, both at the surface and at depth, since all species contribute towards the ecosystem's various functions.

Sogrape’s integrated production approach throughout all of its vineyards in Portugal encourages the sustainable use of plant protection products (PPPs), which can also directly or indirectly affect species beyond those intended in the agroecosystem and, in the long term, impair the biodiversity which contributes towards its key functions. Fully aware of this, Sogrape has carried out projects on biodiversity for many years now, with specific targets aimed at making the company more sustainable. The IJUP-EWSENSOR project is part of the strategy, and seeks to develop an earthworm-based biosensor. This EW biosensor, to be used in the field before and after the year’s primary periods for applying plant protection products, will assess their impacts, in a situation of both integrated and organic farming, on the organisms which live in the vines’ soil. This innovative approach is easy to use in evaluating and protecting biodiversity, adjusting potentially harmful practices at the right time.

To tackle this challenge, this proposal brings together a group of specialists in quality, soil ecotoxicology and biodiversity, who have already started working on the device’s concept and design. Capitalising on earthworms’ well-documented sensitivity to both organic and metal plant protection products (PPPs), the biosensor will evaluate the effects of each year’s treatments at lower cost, in less time and with advance warning. This will allow farmers to adjust their practices to accommodate a high degree of protection for life existing in the soil. By financing this proposal, presented under the University of Porto's Youth Research programme (IJUP) by researchers from the GreenUPorto – Sustainable Agrifood Production research centre of this same university’s School of Sciences, Sogrape is investing in this innovative idea and in the education of students, who will have the chance to personally experience the enhancement of scientific knowledge in an enterprise context.

In this way, Sogrape is taking yet another step down the path of its business sustainability.