REVINE, in the three-year period of the project, proposes the adoption of regenerative agriculture practices with an innovative and original perspective, in order to improve the resilience of vineyards to climate change in the Mediterranean area. The potential for innovation lies in developing and combining new approaches that make agriculture more environmentally sustainable and enable a circular economy capable of improving farmers' incomes. Primarily REVINE aims to improve soil health and biodiversity by promoting the multiplication of soil saprophytic microorganisms and the presence of useful microorganisms linked to the life cycle of the plant, such as rhizobacteria (PGPR) and fungi (PGPF) that promote plant growth which, in addition to increasing plant performance, increase tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses.
Natural and agricultural ecosystems, human health and plant production are being badly affected by the ongoing environmental changes that endanger the availability of water and fertile soil over the near future. Looking at the agricultural sector, water availability, environmental stresses, pollution and soil fertility have a strong impact on crops yield and quality. Additionally, deforestation and utilization of fossil fuels in agriculture are linked to the progressive increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In this scenario, agricultural productivity in Mediterranean countries will be affected severely by adverse environmental conditions; rising temperatures (both during day and night) are being recorded, together with a general decrease and discontinuity in rainfall patterns. As for other crops, grape production, and the relative revenues, is strongly impacted by climate changes that affect both yield and quality potential and, in turn, the resulting wine or table grape. Grapevine is a plant of Mediterranean origin, well adapted to these climatic conditions, although over-use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers are commonly applied to satisfy consumers’ preferences and industry requirements. Additionally, average temperature increases are shifting phenology and ripening traits to a season where grapes are particularly susceptible to biotic and abiotic stresses (e.g., foliar or trunk fungal pathogens, water scarcity), often combined in field conditions. In light of this, the challenge of maintaining grapevine yield and quality under unrelenting climate changes is formidable. Improving or developing new eco-friendly management strategies (e.g. profitable cover crops) and selecting stress-adapted grape genotypes (e.g. rootstocks or neglected varieties endowed of stress tolerance or resilience) represent eco-sustainable approaches to this challenge, that can be tackled by exploring and exploiting regenerative agricultural practices promoting ecosystem services in a profitable farm context.
The OVERALL OBJECTIVE of REVINE is to prove that the application of regenerative agriculture practices in farms located in the Mediterranean area is capable of preserving water resources and soil fertility, controlling soil erosion, and creating the soil physico-chemical conditions that favor the presence of beneficial microorganisms. This will be achieved through a combination of new knowledge acquired from physiology, pathology, and genomics, along with innovative applications in agronomic and breeding processes, thus reaching a better adaptation of grapevine cultivation to the ongoing climate changes. New developed strategies and/or selected stress-adapted genotypes will be profiled and made accessible to the local farming communities. The vineyard will be used as an agroecosystem model for the project, considering that wine and table grapes (V. vinifera L.) are among the most difficult crops to grow, being sensitive to subtle changes in temperature, rain, humidity and exposure to sunlight, especially at key developmental stages. The approaches used in REVINE, namely the application of biostimulants, biofertilizers, amendments, microbial consortia, consociation with cover crops, and the use of tolerant/resistant grape genotypes, provide environmentally friendly alternatives to the existing control methods, and allow to reduce the use of chemicals, thus increasing food safety and improving human and ecosystem health. The project will deliver environmentally sustainable and cost- effective tangible outputs, such as selected genotypes adapted to climate change (efficient in using limited resources/productive in Mediterranean area), and sustainable crop management practices suitable for local varieties. The proposed solutions will be developed under conventional agriculture conditions, but their nature will make them potentially suitable for integrated and organic systems. The uptake of these results will be enabled through demonstration in Mediterranean vineyards, and will contribute to mitigate the risks posed by climate-change to food security, health, and social well-being in the Mediterranean basin and beyond.
The impacts of the REVINE project activities will respond to actors’ and stakeholder needs: increase in the organic and mineral fraction of soils, with recovery of fertility; stable fixation of carbon dioxide in the soil; reduction of tillage with consequent decrease in consumption and emissions due to this practice; reduction of soil erosion, improvement of the hydrogeological security of the territories; reduction of groundwater pollution; reduction of the costs of treatments with pesticides. Multiple abiotic stresses in cropping systems are caused by complex combinations of environmental and agronomic factors; thus, they can be dealt with only by complex blends of innovations at the genetic, biological, and vineyard management levels. REVINE has been designed to find and implement multi-faceted solutions to improve grapevine resilience to climate change, and correspondingly it expects a multi-faceted impact on consumers and society, conventional and low-input farmers, organic farmers, extension services and professional advisors, breeding and researchers, policymakers, consumers and society. Below is a brief description of the impact paths. 1. Improve the biodiversity in the vineyard. The beneficial regenerative agriculture-mediated effects ameliorate soil structure and microbial biodiversity that in turn lead to crop resilience against biotic and abiotic stressful factors. Moreover, enrichment of beneficial microbes in the rhizosphere, such as plant-growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) and fungi (PGPF), are known to trigger the plant immunity inducing the priming state. REVINE intends to improve the biodiversity in the vineyards by using multiple approaches. Some key deliverables linked to this impact are: Collection of Mediterranean local varieties/ landraces of Vitis vinifera and other species of Vitis genera; Collection of Mediterranean microbiological consortia;Associations between vines and legumes that allow double profitability;Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR) phenotyping data/protocols (Standard Operating Procedures, data in open databases); Management techniques adapted to local resilient varieties; Communication and dissemination products (training material, practice abstracts in local languages, guidelines, policy briefs, web media, ...) 2. Improve the fertility and water availability of soil. Regenerative agriculture rebuilds soil organic matter and restores degraded soil biodiversity, resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle. REVINE intends to improve the organic matter and the water cycle in soil by using and promoting sustainable agricultural strategies (e.g. amendment, in particular biochar, compost, biofertilizers and biostimulants) that have been demonstrated to enhance the beneficial microbial community of rhizosphere and, the plant response to biotic and abiotic stresses. In particular, biochar is a carbon-rich substrate that has multiple effects and it can be used in agriculture as soil amendment. It increases soil water-holding capacity and nutrient-availability for plants, thus positively affecting plant growth and developing of their tolerance to water stress. Biochar modifies microbial habitats and favors the presence of plant beneficial microbes. All organic manuring will be produced from crop residues. REVINE intends to valorize agricultural waste and to increase farmers income promoting the circular economy. 3. Socio-economic impact. The impact of REVINE solutions may be limited if farmers are not convinced of their economic feasibility and if these innovations do not align to the values and needs of Mediterranean value-chain actors and of society at large. Thus REVINE will explore these aspects thorough case-studies analysis i) to assess whether smart management techniques and grape genotypes identified by the project may compensate for the economic losses caused by climate change and ii) to understand how innovation might promote (or undermine) social inclusion and equitable improvements to people’s capacities to adapt and drive change in dynamic social–ecological systems. 4. Impact on innovation capacity, creation of market opportunities and capacity building. The involvement of industry in the consortium and the implementation of specific activities dedicated to R&D, on-farm experiments, and innovation management development will enable translation of the project results into marketable products. Participating companies will scale-up selected REVINE solutions, thus increasing their own commercial competitiveness. REVINE includes a training and capacity building strategy that will be directed in particular to farmers and to young scientists.
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