biofertilizers in agriculture: PROJECT developed BY SANT’ANNA SCHOOL LIFE SCIENCES INSTITUTE PRESENTED AT THE “Rural Development Innovation Week” IN FLORENCE

The Rural Development Innovation Week takes place on March 26-29, 2019, in Florence. This annual event is supported by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). Tuscany Region as a main stakeholder of the European Network for Rural Development has made innovation in the agricultural and forest sector the focus of its Rural Development Programme. In collaboration with the S3 Agrifood platform that aims to accelerate the development of joint investment projects in the EU by encouraging and supporting interregional cooperation through a “Smart Specialisation Strategy”, Tuscany Region authority will also benefit from the cooperation opportunities with partners from EU regions and member states.

The Sant’Anna research team Gruppo Interazioni Pianta-Suolo supervised by Professor Laura Ercoli, has presented the FERTIBIO project on the production and applications of biofertilisers as renewable sources of plant nutrients “Sviluppo del processo produttivo dei fertilizzanti biologici e loro applicazione in diversi settori produttivi dell’agricoltura toscana”. The FERTIBIO project partners include Terre dell’Etruria (Società cooperativa Agricola di Produttori) as the coordinator, seven farming companies, fertilizer manufacturing company Idea Verde srl, experts and professionals from CIA Toscana and “Agricoltura è Vita Etruria”.

Biofertilizers have emerged as an important alternative to chemical fertilizers due to their eco-friendly, easy to apply, non-toxic and cost effective nature. The FERTIBIO project aims to develop and validate biofertilizers used to improve nutrition and yields of grain, legume, tuber, and other crops in Tuscany. Research carried out by Sant’Anna School’s staff is aimed at testing two Tuscany prototypes in the cultivation of plants. The project will also cover a range of activities from study visits to dissemination and exploitation.

FERTIBIO will provide a handbook and offer guidance for soil and crop-specific plant nutrition. Professor Laura Ercoli explained, “Researchers of Sant'Anna School are committed to rural development in Tuscany and projects connected to specific areas of smart specialisation. A symbiotic relationship between plants and soil biota reduces pollutants, minimizes damage to the environment and enhances the ecosystem resilience.  Based on recent findings, new mutualistic strategies for sustainable agriculture and sustainable food production need to take into account the ‘symbiotic agriculture’”.

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