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4 dicembre 2017

Organiko 3nd Study visit in Bolzano and Parma

The Organiko LIFE+ project 3nd study visit in Italy took place in Bolzano on 20-21 November and in Parma on 22 Novembre.

On Monday 20 November, our first stop was the Renon-Selva Verde CO2 measuring station, which is located in the Italian Alps region, at a distance of 12.2 km North-Northeast from the town of Bolzano. The station is part of the pan-European research infrastructure ICOS (Integrated Carbon Observation Network) and its purpose is to investigate the long-term exchange of carbon dioxide, water vapour and energy flux between the sub-alpine coniferous forest and the atmosphere. Also, the station is part of the international network FLUXNET, a confederation of regional networks in North, Central and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. During our visit, we were accompanied by Stefano Minerbi, the site responsible person for the Bolzano Provincial Government and Leonardo Montagnani, the principal investigator and Crop Physiology Professor at Bolzano University who described in detail the role of the station.
Then we continued our visit at the Laimburg Research Center, which is the leading research institute for South Tyrol’s broad spectrum of agricultural issues. Martina Boschiero, member of the berries and stone fruit group, presented their analysis on the agronomic results and carbon footprint of the different nets used in the apple cultivation in South Tyrol. She highlighted that we need to find the balance between pesticide use and greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental, economic and social impacts in order to adopt the most sustainable solution. Ewald Larschneider, member of the organic farming group, presented the facts about organic farming in South Tyrol. It is important to note that more than 40% of organic apples in Europe are produced in South Tyrol and this is mainly due to three reasons: (1) The climate is ideal for apple production (2) Organic farmers are coordinated through cooperatives which sell the organic apples in the whole Europe (3) There is semi-public technical assistance for organic farmers. Manul Pramsohler, member of the arable crops group, presented among others the variety testing of barley they have performed for malt production.

On Tuesday 21 November, we visited the Bioland Verband Südtirol, where the director, Reinhard Verdorfer, presented the organic farming situation and perspectives in South Tyrol. It is of note that the number of members is growing from 1991 onwards reaching 640 members and 25 partner companies in 2017.  The certification label of Bioland creates and ensures the added value over the whole supply chain from the seeds to the retailers and is based on seven principles: (1) care for the natural life cycles (2) soil fertility (3) animal welfare (4) grow food with high quality (5) biodiversity (6) conservation of water reservoirs (7) maintenance of independent farming structures. Dietmar Battisti, a Bioland member, showed us a nearby organic apple farm, where his owner explained how they increase the ecology impact of their crops such as using logs to attract beneficial insects and small animals.
Then we went to the NOI Techpark, which is located on the grounds of a former aluminium plant in Bolzano Sud, and connects companies, researchers and students in four key areas that are already South Tyrol’s strong suits: Alpine Technology, Green Technology, Food Technology and Automation. Alexander Alber, member of the BLS construction team, guided us to the areas of the Techpark and presented to us the two main players of the Techpark; IDM, which drives the operation and vitalization of the central area and provides innovation services for companies and users and IBM, which is responsible for the development and management of land and property. Seven institutes are involved and more than thirty labs are operated and the Techpark is considered a zero emission building. We met with Paul Zandanel, head of IDM marketing department, who gave us an insight of the brand system Südtirol and how they connect tourism with agriculture. Also, we met with Kurt Ratschiller, marketing manager of VOG, which is the Association of South Tyrolean Fruit Growers’ Co-operatives. He noted that more than 30 varieties of apples are grown organically and they have tried to export them to Cyprus but the Cypriot market may not be ready now but it will be in a few years.

On Wednesday 22 November, we visited the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) headquarters in Parma, where we had a meeting with Stylianos Koulouris, liaison officer, Sérgio Potier Rodeia, scientific officer and another scientific officer on plant health. Among others, they presented to us the priorities of the EU Risk Assessment Agenda, which they were defined collaboratively between the member states and EFSA, and ORGANIKO aims can fit in some of those priorities. We presented the ORGANIKO children’s health study design and preliminary results and we had fruitful discussions about the results implication and future research activities.
Or next meeting was at the Parma University Hospital, with Professor Gian Luigi de Angelis, Director of the Pediatric department of Parma University and Dr. Federica Gaiani: they presented to us the pilot study they implement with similar characteristics with our intervention study. We presented the ORGANIKO children’s health study design and preliminary results and we discussed about possible future research studies around the aim of investigating the health effects of organic diet.

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