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Jensen C.R.,Copenhagen University | Battilani A.,Consorzio Bonifica CER | Plauborg F.,University of Aarhus | Psarras G.,Greek National Agricultural Research Foundation | And 9 more authors.
Agricultural Water Management | Year: 2010

Agriculture is a big consumer of fresh water in competition with other sectors of the society. Within the EU-project SAFIR new water-saving irrigation strategies were developed based on pot, semi-field and field experiments with potatoes (Solanum tuberosum L.), fresh tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) and processing tomatoes as model plants. From the pot and semi-field experiments an ABA production model was developed for potatoes to optimize the ABA signalling; this was obtained by modelling the optimal level of soil drying for ABA production before re-irrigation in a crop growth model. The field irrigation guidelines were developed under temperate (Denmark), Mediterranean (Greece, Italy) and continental (Serbia, China) climatic conditions during summer. The field investigations on processing tomatoes were undertaken only in the Po valley (North Italy) on fine, textured soil. The investigations from several studies showed that gradual soil drying imposed by deficit irrigation (DI) or partial root zone drying irrigation (PRD) induced hydraulic and chemical signals from the root system resulting in partial stomatal closure, an increase in photosynthetic water use efficiency, and a slight reduction in top vegetative growth. Further PRD increased N-mineralization significantly beyond that from DI, causing a stay-green effect late in the growing season. In field potato and tomato experiments the water-saving irrigation strategies DI and PRD were able to save about 20-30% of the water used in fully irrigated plants. PRD increased marketable yield in potatoes significantly by 15% due to improved tuber size distribution. PRD increased antioxidant content significantly by approximately 10% in both potatoes and fresh tomatoes. Under a high temperature regime, full irrigation (FI) should be undertaken, as was clear from field observations in tomatoes. For tomatoes full irrigation should be undertaken for cooling effects when the night/day average temperature >26.5 °C or when air temperature >40 °C to avoid flower-dropping. The temperature threshold for potatoes is not clear. From three-year field drip irrigation experiments we found that under the establishment phase, both potatoes and tomatoes should be fully irrigated; however, during the later phases deficit irrigation might be applied as outlined below without causing significant yield reduction: •Potatoes After the end of tuber initiation, DI or PRD is applied at 70% of FI. During the last 14 days of the growth period, DI or PRD is applied at 50% of FI.•Fresh tomatoes From the moment the 1st truce is developed, DI is applied at 85-80% of FI for two weeks. In the middle period, DI or PRD is applied at 70% of FI. During the last 14 days of the growth period, DI or PRD is applied at 50% of FI.•Processing tomatoesFrom transplanting to fruit setting at 4th-5th cluster, the PRD and DI threshold for re-irrigation is when the plant-available soil water content (ASWC) equals 0.7 (soil water potential, Ψsoil=-90kPa). During the late fruit development/ripening stage, 10% of red fruits, the threshold for re-irrigation for DI is when ASWC=0.5 (Ψsoil=-185kPa) and for PRD when ASWC (dry side)=0.4 (Ψsoil, dry side=-270kPa). The findings during the SAFIR project might be used as a framework for implementing water-saving deficit irrigation under different local soil and climatic conditions. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.

Battilani A.,Consorzio Bonifica CER | Jensen C.R.,Copenhagen University | Liu F.,Copenhagen University | Andersen M.N.,University of Aarhus | And 2 more authors.
Acta Horticulturae | Year: 2013

A field experiment was carried out in Northern Italy, within the frame of the EU project SAFIR, to test the feasibility of partial root-zone drying (PRD) management on processing tomato and to compare PRD irrigation strategy with regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) management. In 2007, there was no difference between RDI and PRD for the total and marketable yield. In 2008, PRD increased the marketable yield by 14.8% while the total yield was similar to RDI. Water Use Efficiency (WUE) was higher with PRD (+ 14%) compared to RDI. PRD didn't improve fruit quality, although in 2007 a better °Brix, colour and acidity were observed. PRD reduced irrigation water volume (-9.0% of RDI) while a higher dry matter accumulation in the fruits was recorded both in 2007 and 2008. The income for each cubic meter of irrigation water was 10.6 € in RDI and 14.8 € in PRD, respectively. The gross margin obtained with each kg of nitrogen was not statistically different between PRD and RDI. Although PRD showed a better WUE, the income per hectare was not increased by this irrigation strategy.

Ragab R.,UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology | Battilani A.,Consorzio Bonifica CER | Matovic G.,Institute for Olive Tree and Subtropical Plants of Chania | Stikic R.,Institute for Olive Tree and Subtropical Plants of Chania | And 2 more authors.
Irrigation and Drainage | Year: 2015

This paper is a follow-up from a paper which described the SALTMED model. In this paper the focus is on the model application, using data of tomato and potato from field experiments in Italy, Greece (Crete) and Serbia. Drip full irrigation, drip deficit irrigation, drip as partial root drying (PRD), sprinkler and furrow irrigation were used in the 3-yr experiment between 2006 and 2008. In drip-irrigated experiments, the drip line was 10-12 cm below the surface. Dry matter, final yield, soil moisture and soil nitrogen were successfully simulated. The study showed that there is a great potential for saving water when using subsurface drip, PRD or drip deficit irrigation compared with sprinkler and furrow irrigation. Depending on the crop and irrigation system, the amount of fresh water that can be saved could vary between 14 and 44%. PRD and deficit drip irrigation have proved to be the most efficient water application strategies with the highest water productivity. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Battilani A.,Consorzio Bonifica CER | Letterio T.,Consorzio Bonifica CER
Acta Horticulturae | Year: 2015

A survey was conducted on a collection of data from different projects at European and national level, carried out over a period of more than 20 years (1991-2013). Results show that total yield has greatest influence on tomato fruit quality: yield higher than 80 t ha-1 results in about 0.5-0.7 °Brix losses. Reversely, as farm yield increases harvested soluble solids and crop profitability are augmenting. Irrigation methods do not influence °Brix, but drip irrigated tomatoes harvested more °Brix per ha with better colour and gross margin. Irrigation strategies affected °Brix: severe water stresses increase °Brix but depressing both yield and gross margin while light, regulated deficit does not affect quality or farmer's income. Cultivar' earliness (genotype) greatly influences fruit quality. Fertigation affects neither fruit soluble solids content nor Bostwick, but improves fruit colour and harvested Brix. The analysis shows that it is possible to wisely reduce water uses without negative impact on crop profitability or even increasing farmer's income through a better product quality. Fruit quality forecast semi-empirical algorithms with sufficient robustness and reliability to carry out a risk analysis can be implemented in irrigation management models.

Battilani A.,Consorzio Bonifica CER
Acta Horticulturae | Year: 2015

In many countries sustainability is an important driver for many of policies: nearly all the already enforced or forthcoming regulations include sustainability aspects. But sustainability is not solely about wise and equitable use of resources or climate change adaptive actions, it also concerns waste reduction, minimizing energy, water and land consumption making efficient use of any kind of external inputs, in the frame of a broader bio economy concept. Coupling Bio and Circular economy concepts is deemed our best option to finally achieve a sustainable production of food, functional and nutraceutic compounds, industrial products and energy. In this new economy, the definition of biomass encompasses any biological material to be used, or reused, as raw material in the same or in interconnected productive processes. The focus on total harvested biomasses, instead on the primary product it is probably one of the most innovative concepts backing future economic growth. As a matter of fact, it can play an important role in both creating economic growth, in stimulating technological development and in formulating effective adaptation to global challenges. Nevertheless, the first impact of sustainability criteria applied to the current economic model has been an increased competition on the main resources, namely: i) water; ii) land; iii) external inputs - i.e., energy, nutrients, chemicals; iv) capital, both financial and human. Farmers, academy and industry will have to adjust and re-orient their programmes in order to develop new farm and food production systems, in line with new policies and external drivers. The new agro-food production systems must be designed in order to match the following constraints/criteria: i) ensure profitability at farm level; ii) production of the consistent quality raw materials required by food processing and by bio refineries; iii) produce internationally tradable food products and related know-how and technologies; iv) improved energy efficiency at each step of the production chain; v) increasing resilience and self-sustainability, coping with the progressive onset of climate change; vi) secure environmental and social sustainability. Hence, significant outcomes from genomics, agronomy, food science and technology are necessary. Among the most significant and promising innovation there are: i) precision farming and irrigation; ii) nanotechnology and bio-nanotech; iii) robotics and mechatronics applications; iv) genomic and plant molecular physiology studies; v) increased use of second generation biomass, like agro-food residues and non-edible or non-commercial oils. Current limitation of resources availability is giving stimulus to innovation in the whole agro-food sector, challenging farmers and industries.

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