Matching market challenges
Since the Green Revolution in the 1950s and 60s, crop production in Europe and around the world has largely relied on plant protection products. As the population increases, one of the largest challenges is ensuring agricultural production while also maintaining a sustainable environment, including no further land increase for agricultural usage. During its realization (2020-2024), NOVATERRA aims to create a more holistic approach to future farming. Using precision farming, new natural protection products, soil management strategies and robotics the project aims to reduce environmental pollution and avoid damage to biodiversity as well as improving economic sustainability for Mediterranean farmers. SOGRAPE is the only Portuguese wine company in the project’s consortium.
In this first year of the project, SOGRAPE has developed studies on new strategies in the use of substances that promote the natural resistance of grapevines for the control of downy and powdery mildew, as well as on the application of an innovative biodegradable formulation for the diffusion of pheromones of the grapevine moth (Lobesia botrana) in a protection strategy called sexual confusion method.
NOVATERRA advocates "new integrated strategies to reduce the use and impact of pesticides for the sustainability of Mediterranean vineyards and olive groves". The overall objective of the project is to create a more holistic approach to ensure food security and access to healthy food for a growing population, without neglecting EU directives and priorities regarding the sustainable use of pesticides.
As the CEEV (Comité Européen des Entreprises de Vin) points out, “the Wine and Vineyard sector permeates many levels of European life, contributing significantly to society in socio-economic, environmental and societal terms: where vines grace the landscape, the wine sector provides employment to millions, helping to sustain the fabric of rural societies and maintaining a way of life that is central to the very notion of a European identity”. As such, the European Union is the world’s leading producer, consumer, exporter and importer of wine, accounting for: 45 % of wine-growing areas (led by Spain, Italy and France), 65 % of production (156Mill Hl in 2019), 57 % of global consumption and 70 % of exports in global terms.
Through a series of case studies in Mediterranean olive groves and vineyards, the project will aim to reduce environmental pollution and the damage to non-target organisms as well as the achievement of better economic sustainability for Mediterranean farmers. In addition, NOVATERRA will create a Stakeholders Network that shall participate in the initial diagnosis, in focus group meetings and workshops and other exploitation activities and provide specific consulting advice.
NOVATERRA will increase the level of education of farmers involved in two of the most important crops in the Mediterranean area, contributing to reduce that educational lag among farmers in Europe. To this end, SOGRAPE will test an innovative technology developed in Portugal by INESC-TEC, an institution with which it has signed a protocol to use the Quinta do Seixo as a test site for robotic solutions for viticulture.
The project received a total of €4,884,346.35 in funding as a part of a Horizon 2020 Innovation Action grant from the European Commission. NOVATERRA Consortium, led by the Institute of Agri-food Research and Technology (IRTA, Catalunya, Spain) is constituted by a total of 19 entities including experts from 6 countries (Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Greece and Belgium) with different profiles, who will design, develop, test and exploit the solutions.
The NOVATERRA project has received funding from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 grant agreement number 101000554.