Horta Srl

Piacenza, Italy

Horta Srl

Piacenza, Italy

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Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-TP | Phase: KBBE.2012.1.2-04 | Award Amount: 8.49M | Year: 2013

The strategic goal of the project is to help the European vineyard sector facing the increasingly global competition by meeting: * Consumer demands for diversified high quality wines and concerns for food safety * Citizens requests for environment-friendly production systems involving decreased or no use of pesticides and spare of not renewable natural resources * Producers needs of plant material, tools and methods to help them cope with the negative impacts of climate change while responding to demands for quality, environmental friendliness and needs of profitability To reach this overall goal, the project will: * At the plant level, improve and design agricultural practices (canopy management, irrigation, fertilisation, training systems, pest and disease control, etc.) aimed at maximising berry quality, durable resistance to pests and and diseases, and adaptation to climate change (higher CO2, drought, UV light, and higher temperatures) * At the vineyard level, design, develop and test innovative agronomic systems integrating new agricultural practices and taking into account the variability of constraints met by European vineyards grown under a wide range of environments * At the breeding level, diversify grapevine varieties with regard to desirable adaptative traits building on tools and knowledge developed through international breeding and genomic initiatives. The project will combine short, medium, and long-term approaches to respectively conceive innovative viticulture systems, design and test novel agronomic practices and decision support systems, and exploit the genetic diversity of grapevine that all together will ensure a progress towards sustainable viticulture.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-TP | Phase: KBBE.2012.3.5-03 | Award Amount: 7.70M | Year: 2012

Water4Crops provides a combination of technical improvements in the field of bio-treatment and agricultural water use within a transdisciplinary identification of novel agri-business opportunities. Water4Crops aims at: a) developing innovative biotechnological wastewater treatments for improved water recycling, b) initiating the co-creation of alternative combinations of bio-treatment, recycling of high value elements, and combinations for bioproducts leading to a better commercialization of biotechnology and agricultural products in Europe and India, c)improving water use efficiency at field level through agronomics, plant breeding and locally adapted new irrigation technologies and accurate crop water requirement measurements techniques. Water4Crops will boost bio-based economy by applying a double track approach. First a comprehensive set of key Green-Economy technologies for: 1) valorization of volatile fatty acids; 2) obtaining: natural antioxidants (polyphenols), biopolymers (PHAs), energy (biomethane); 3) new substances for selective recovery of valuable products from wastewater; 4) tailoring effluent properties from decentralized innovative bioreactors; 5) low bio-sludge production by SBBG Reactors; 6) removal of organopollutants by nanobiocatalysts; 7) reduced clogging of wetlands; 8) virus monitoring detection assays; 9) suitable precision irrigation systems for reclaimed water; 10) new monitoring for increase crop water productivity; 11) understanding the genetic mechanisms regulating drought-adaptive traits across maize, sorghum, millet and tomato; 12) optimized waste water related combinations of species/genotypes x environment x management. Second, new product market combinations will be identified. The co-creation process will be organized by two Mirror cases (Emilia Romagna area in Italy and Hyderabad region in India) within a specific Science-Practice Interface (INNOVA platforms). Developing the new applications and business opportunities with regional enterprises and stakeholder will move India and Europe towards a Green Economy.

Rossi V.,Catholic University of the Sacred Heart | Rossi V.,Horta Srl | Salinari F.,Horta Srl | Poni S.,Catholic University of the Sacred Heart | And 2 more authors.
Computers and Electronics in Agriculture | Year: 2014

Although many Decision Support Systems (DSSs) have been developed for crop management, DSSs have contributed little to practical agriculture because of the so-called 'problem of implementation'; under-utilisation has been ascribed to both technical limitations of the DSSs and to farmer attitude towards DSSs. A new DSS, named vite.net®, was developed for sustainable management of vineyards and is intended for the vineyard manager (the person who makes decisions about the vineyard management or suggests the proper actions to the grape-grower). The DSS has two main parts: (i) an integrated system for real-time monitoring of the vineyard components (air, soil, plants, pests, and diseases) and (ii) a web-based tool that analyses these data by using advanced modelling techniques and then provides up-to-date information for managing the vineyard in the form of alerts and decision supports. The information is tailored to a vineyard, or part of a vineyard, or a number of vineyards that are uniformly managed throughout the season. In the design and development of vite.net®, the implementation problem was specifically addressed by: (i) focusing on the important vineyard problems with a holistic approach (the DSS incorporates overall management solutions for growers); (ii) using automation and integration in data collection, and supporting flexible input efforts by the user; (iii) developing and validating fit-to-purpose, mechanistic, dynamic models; (iv) designing a user-friendly interface and providing complete and easy-to-understand information; (v) delivering the DSS through the Web and thereby enabling both continuous updating by the provider and flexible access by the user; (vi) designing the DSS with the goal of assisting the decision maker (by providing necessary information) rather than replacing the decision maker; (vii) involving potential users during vite.net® development and testing so as to obtain insight into how users make decisions; (viii) communicating the benefits of the DSS via seminars and visits to demonstration vineyards; (ix) involving chemical companies and other potential stakeholders; and (x) developing a two-way communication mode with the end-users, i.e., by combining "push" and "pull" systems. Feedback collected during development, testing, and practical use of vite.net® suggested that potential users were likely to use the DSS and that the 'implementation problem' had been successfully addressed. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: SFS-13-2015 | Award Amount: 5.24M | Year: 2016

MyToolBox mobilises a multi-actor partnership (academia, farmers, technology SMEs, food industry and policy stakeholders) to develop novel interventions aimed at achieving a 20-90% reduction in crop losses due to fungal and mycotoxin contamination. MyToolBox will not only pursue a field-to-fork approach but will also consider safe use options of contaminated batches, such as the efficient production of biofuels. A major component of MyToolBox, which also distinguishes this proposal from previous efforts in the area mycotoxin reduction, is to provide the recommended measures to the end users along the food and feed chain in a web-based Toolbox. Cutting edge research will result in new interventions, which will be integrated together with existing measures in the Toolbox that will guide the end user as to the most effective measure(s) to be taken to reduce crop losses. We will focus on small grain cereals, maize, peanuts and dried figs, applicable to agricultural conditions in EU and China. Crop losses using existing practices will be compared with crop losses after novel pre-harvest interventions including investigation of genetic resistance to fungal infection, cultural control, the use of novel biopesticides (organic-farming compliant), competitive biocontrol treatment and development of forecasting models to predict mycotoxin contamination. Research into post-harvest measures including real-time monitoring during storage, innovative sorting of crops using vision-technology and novel milling technology will enable cereals with higher mycotoxin levels to be processed without breaching regulatory limits in finished products. Research into the effects of baking on mycotoxin levels will provide better understanding of process factors used in mycotoxin risk assessment. Involvement of leading institutions from China are aimed at establishing a sustainable cooperation in mycotoxin research between the EU and China.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: BSG-SME | Phase: SME-1 | Award Amount: 1.44M | Year: 2011

The aim of the MoDeM_IVM project is to develop a new, interactive, web-based Decision Support System (DSS) for integrated management of the vineyard. The SME participants are strongly confident that the project results will improve their competitiveness in a very important and highly profitable market (i.e., grapevine in EU27), because of: i) the DSS is highly innovative and focused to solve practical problems; ii) end-users will draw clear economic and environmental advantages; iii) the EU policies will determine a huge increase of the Internet use in agricultural areas in coming years. The project has 8 partners (3 SMEs and 5 RTD performers) settled in four EU countries; other countries and end-users are involved in some project activities. The project has 8 Work Packages. RTD is mainly in charge to RTD performers but involves also the SMEs. Research is mainly addressed to: i) develop and integrate in a single system automatic sensors and hand-held devices for monitoring all the vineyard components (WP1); ii) develop mathematical models for the key aspects of the vineyard management (WP2); iii) define the best options for managing the vineyard according to the Integrated Production and bring these options into practical guidelines (WP2); iv) optimise decision making based on a cost-benefit analysis that also considers environmental impacts (WP3); v) develop the web-based DSS that: receives real-time input data from the vineyard; uses data for calculating optimised decision supports; shows the decision supports in a clear way (WP4). Dissemination activities (WP5) will be targeted to end users (validation of the DSS in commercial vineyards and seminars), and to the scientific world (international congress, publications and a web-site). Training for the SME staff is aimed at facilitating the take up of results (WP6). Management of the project activities, knowledge, IPR and exploitation of the results by the SMEs have a specific WP (WP7).

Calliera M.,Catholic University of the Sacred Heart | Berta F.,Syngenta | Galassi T.,Servizio Fitosanitario della Regione Emilia Romagna | Mazzini F.,Servizio Fitosanitario della Regione Emilia Romagna | And 7 more authors.
Pest Management Science | Year: 2013

BACKGROUND: In 2008-2009, a survey in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy collected information on the farm use of plant protection products (PPPs) and evaluated whether the provisions of the Directive for the Sustainable Use of Pesticides are applicable. It was concluded that the provisions can be implemented, even if some gaps need to be filled and also the behaviour of farmers needs to be improved. Moreover, it was observed that all stages in the use of PPPs on farms could generate risks for the operator and/or the environment. One of the recommendations is to promote training for operators and to adopt good agronomic practices in order to improve sustainable use of PPPs. RESULTS: The findings were used, in the following years, to develop a Guideline for Sustainable Use of PPPs to help the user in identifying the flaws in current practices at farm level as well as their corresponding corrective actions. The Guidelines are accompanied by free online software to be used as a diagnostic tool as well as to provide recommendations for improvements. CONCLUSION: The approach adopted, taking into account the variability in farm structure, cropping pattern, risk attitude and economic availability, is not an instrument to identify the most suitable protection strategy for a given crop in a given period, but to help professional users to improve their practices in managing PPPs on farms and to make the most appropriate choices leading to reduced environmental and human risk, without compromising the profitability of agricultural production and food standards. This work has, as an underlying principle, a holistic approach to link the different elements of the three pillars of sustainability (environment, economy and society) and to enhance knowledge, which represents one of the main aspects of the Directive. © 2013 Society of Chemical Industry.

Ruini L.,Barilla G.e R. Fratelli S.p.A | Ferrari E.,Barilla G.e R. Fratelli S.p.A | Meriggi P.,Horta Srl | Marino M.,Life Cycle Engineering | Sessa F.,Life Cycle Engineering
IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology | Year: 2013

Barilla put forth a project to increase the use of cereal sustainable cropping systems. The first part of the project was focused on identifying potential improvements in the most diffused cropping systems for the cultivation of Durum wheat in Italy, while maintaining high levels of quality and food safety standards. Results show that the well-known low input agronomic practices are environmentally friendly and also often economically advantageous. Implementation of dicotyledons into a cereal-only rotation allows a reduction of environmental impacts (- 36% GHG), a reduction of DON risk and an increase in net income for farmers (up to 31%). In the second part Barilla gave to 13 farmers a decision support system (DSS) to help them in reducing production costs and environmental impacts. Results show that the only adoption of DSS contributes in reducing carbon footprint (-10%), and costs for pesticides and fertilizers (- 10%). © IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2013.

Rossi V.,Catholic University of the Sacred Heart | Caffi T.,Catholic University of the Sacred Heart | Salinari F.,Horta Srl
Phytopathologia Mediterranea | Year: 2012

The European Community Directive 128/2009 on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides establishes a strategy for the use of plant protection products (PPPs) in the European Community so as to reduce risks to human health and the environment. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a key component of this strategy, which will become mandatory in 2014. IPM is based on dynamic processes and requires decision-making at strategic, tactical, and operational levels. Relative to decision makers in conventional agricultural systems, decision makers in IPM systems require more knowledge and must deal with greater complexity. Different tools have been developed for supporting decision-making in plant disease control and include warning services, on-site devices, and decision support systems (DSSs). These decision-support tools operate at different spatial and time scales, are provided to users both by public and private sources, focus on different communication modes, and can support multiple options for delivering information to farmers. Characteristics, weaknesses, and strengths of these tools are described in this review. Also described are recently developed DSSs, which are characterised by: i) holistic treatment of crop management problems (including pests, diseases, fertilisation, canopy management and irrigation); ii) conversion of complex decision processes into simple and easy-to-understand 'decision supports'; iii) easy and rapid access through the Internet; and iv) two-way communication between users and providers that make it possible to consider context-specific information. These DSSs are easy-to-use tools that perform complex tasks efficiently and effectively. The delivery of these DSSs via the Internet increases user accessibility, allows the DSSs to be updated easily and continuously (so that new knowledge can be rapidly and efficiently provided to farmers), and allows users to maintain close contact with providers. © Firenze University Press.

Rossi V.,Catholic University of the Sacred Heart | Onesti G.,Catholic University of the Sacred Heart | Legler S.E.,Horta S.r.l | Caffi T.,Catholic University of the Sacred Heart
European Journal of Plant Pathology | Year: 2014

The available knowledge on black-rot of grape was retrieved from literature, analyzed, and synthesized to develop a mechanistic model of the life cycle of the pathogen (Guignardia bidwelii) based on the systems analysis. Three life-cycle compartments were defined: (i) production and maturation of inoculum in overwintered sources (i.e., ascospores from pseudothecia and conidia from pycnidia in berry mummies and cane lesions); (ii) infection caused by ascospores and conidia; and (iii) disease onset and production of secondary inoculum. An analysis of published, quantitative information was conducted to develop a mechanistic model driven by weather and vine phenology; equations were developed for ascospore and conidial maturation in overwintered fruiting bodies, spore release and survival, infection occurrence and severity, incubation and latency periods, onset of lesions, production of pycnidia, and infectious periods. The model was then evaluated for its ability to represent the real system and its usefulness for understanding black-rot epidemics by using three typical epidemics. Finally, weaknesses in our knowledge are discussed. Additional research is needed concerning the influence of wetness duration and temperature on infection by ascospores, production dynamics of pycnidia and conidia in black-rot lesions, and the dynamics of conidia exudation from pycnidia. © 2014, Koninklijke Nederlandse Planteziektenkundige Vereniging.

Rossi V.,Catholic University of the Sacred Heart | Manstretta V.,Catholic University of the Sacred Heart | Ruggeri M.,Horta S.R.L.
World Mycotoxin Journal | Year: 2015

Mycotoxin contamination is of great concern in durum wheat and pasta production in Italy. A long-term project was conducted to improve mycotoxin management, and this project had six stages, from basic research to large-scale application. In stage 1, research was conducted on the biology and epidemiology of the fungal species involved in the Fusarium head blight (FHB) complex. The results were used in stage 2 to develop a multispecies, mechanistic model that included the effect of host and weather on: (1) inoculum production and dispersal; (2) infection and disease onset; and (3) mycotoxin accumulation. The weather-driven model was then validated under different epidemiological conditions. In stage 3, the model was expanded to include those crop management options that influence the risk of FHB and mycotoxin contamination, i.e. growing area, host species and resistance level of the cultivar, previous crop, and soil tillage. In stage 4, the complete model was included in a web-based decision support system (DSS) named granoduro.net®. The DSS provides plot-specific and up-to-date decision supports about weather, fertilisation, crop growth, weed control, and disease and mycotoxin risk. In stage 5, the DSS, together with Good Agricultural Practices, was applied for 2 years in 25 pilot farms across Italy. DSS use reduced external inputs (i.e. seeds, fungicides, and fertilisers) and costs, maintained or increased crop yield and quality, and kept mycotoxin contamination below the legal limit. Thus, the DSS significantly increased farmer income and reduced emission of greenhouse gasses. In stage 6, in an agreement with Barilla (a pasta producing company), the DSS was successfully used to manage 18,000 ha of durum wheat across Italy during 2013-2014. The DSS is currently being improved to include additional Fusarium species and related toxins, and the sexual stage of Fusarium graminearum. DSSs for common wheat and barley are also under development. © 2015 Wageningen Academic Publishers.

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