Agriculture and environment

Agriculture and environment

... Why does a multi-thousand-year-old society like ours seem powerless today in the face of the environmental, economic, energy, social and political crises?

Since man invented agriculture about 10,000 years ago he began to modify his own vital environment and has had an attitude of aggression and predation towards nature: forests have been destroyed, rivers diverted, hills have been leveled and mountains dug, soil is polluted and atmosphere; many living species disappear and those we breed for our consumption increase, the world population increases uncontrollably with the logical consequence of a global increase in the aforementioned anthropic activities to the detriment of ecosystems. The agricultural sector is therefore increasingly interested in far-reaching transformations with a growing acceleration in an increasingly globalized socio-economic and productive context that requires entrepreneurs and the whole agricultural world to make timely and effective adaptations.

There are many signs of this evolutionary process: the enlargement and integration of the other countries of the European community, the changes to the common agricultural policy for income support, the strengthening of the development of rural areas, the competitiveness of markets and the strong instability of prices. paid to the farmers themselves.Moreover, the awareness of civil society and consumers in general has grown more and more towards the multifunctional role of the agro-environmental sector by virtue of relations with food quality, respect for the environment, variety and territorial and landscape biodiversity that farmers are able to improve and protect.

... Today we collide with the reality of the limits of planetary resources and certainties collapse. This is followed by disorientation, the fragmentation of knowledge, the inability to find a coherent logical thread in the facts ...

Agriculture has lost the old codes, forgetting them to move towards a new, more central and important path that is capable of elaborating their hard-won conquest. We are within a dynamism in which not only the agricultural practices themselves but above all their role within society and that of the agricultural entrepreneur and his expectations are recoded ...

"The management of the earth by man must be mainly oriented towards 3 objectives: health, beauty and stability. The fourth objective, productivity, will be achieved almost as a by-product ». (E .F. Schumacher)

"Nature is commanded only by obeying it." (Bacon)

"The earth by reason of its own fecundity and ability to satisfy the needs of man is the first gift of God for the sustenance of human life ... now laterra does not give its fruits without a particular human response to the gift of God , that is, without work ... It is through work that man, using his intelligence and his freedom, succeeds in dominating it and makes it his home (...) ». (EncyclicalCentesimus Annus by John Paul II, 1991)

"The first law of ecology: everything is connected with all the others." (Barry Commoner).

The column is edited by Dr. Antonella di Matteo, who you can contact at [email protected]

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An environmentally sustainable CAP

The common agricultural policy (CAP) has three clear environmental goals, each of which are echoed in the European Green Deal and Farm to Fork strategy:

  • tackling climate change
  • protecting natural resources
  • enhancing biodiversity.

Each of these goals are supported by the CAP’s promotion of organic farming and the responsible management of inputs like pesticides and fertilizers.

The CAP aims to reach its environmental goals in a way that is socially and economically sustainable for farmers, rural communities, and the EU as a whole.

Environmental measures in the CAP

Measures that encourage green farming and enforce environmental rules form a central part of the CAP:

  • cross-compliance standards link financial support to EU rules on the environment, as well as human, plant and animal health
  • green direct payments put in place mandatory actions (maintaining permanent grassland, crop diversity and ecological focus areas), each geared towards protecting the environment and tackling climate change
  • rural development policy supports investments and farming activities that contribute to climate action and the sustainable management of natural resources.

The future CAP

The future CAP will take further steps towards achieving a green and sustainable system of agriculture in the EU. It will include:

  • a more simplified, flexible, and targeted approach
  • strengthened environmental conditions and standards to be met by farmers
  • an expanded set of voluntary environmental actions available to farmers, through eco-schemes and rural development policy.

Related information

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Bees have both an environmental and a productive value. Environmental, for their role in the pollination of spontaneous flora and as a productive bioindicator, for the direct production of honey, royal jelly, pollen, wax, propolis and for the pollination of cultivated species. Bees are facing increasing difficulties caused by numerous factors, including the intensification of agricultural activities, the loss of habitat and biodiversity, the decrease in nutritional resources, the arrival of new parasites and pathogens. CREA - Agriculture and Environment Research Center seeks to respond to these challenges through research, training and dissemination activities.

The apidology research group of the Agriculture and Environment Research Center of CREA collects the legacy ofNational Institute of Beekeeping whose birth dates back to 1930s, a period in which it was erected as a "non-profit organization" under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture, by Royal and Imperial Decree.
At that time there was a strong development of the breeding activity of queen bees and there was a need for certify both from a health and race point of view, the queens produced for trade and the Institute was created to meet this need.
Over the years, the sector has undergone strong development and the institute's skills have expanded to continue to meet the needs of beekeepers.
With the advent of aincreasingly intensive agriculture in fact, new problems have been added, especially related to the use of crop protection products and upon the arrival of exotic parasites.
At the same time, the simplification of trade has made the enhancement of Italian beekeeping products, in the face of a global economy. More recently, awareness is growing that the phenomenon climate change it can also have a strong influence on bees, which have taken on one environmental value stand out for theirs role in pollination and for the singular ability to take matrices of various kinds from an extended territory. The “API” research group therefore found its natural place in the “Agriculture and Environment” research center which has as its mission the efficient management and monitoring of natural resources, both biotic and abiotic, for sustainable and innovative agriculture.
The “API” research group is made up of 9 researchers and 8 technicians from the scientific area, and other staff hired on a fixed-term basis for specific projects. The territorial office is that of Bologna, in via di Saliceto 80.

Researchers and technical and administrative staff involved in the APIDOLOGY sector, summer 2019. From left to top: Ilaria Cardaio, Antonio Nanetti, Marino Quaranta, Cecilia Costa, Patrizia Bergomi, Roberto Colombo, Gian Luigi Marcazzan, Maria Teresa D'Amato, Michela Boi, Emanuele Carpana, Laura Bortolotti, Vittorio Capano, Piotr Medrzycki, Sara Danielli, Gennaro Di Prisco, Francesca Corvucci, Antonio Iannone, Francesca Vittoria Grillenzoni, Anna De Rogatis, Giorgia Serra.

What does it offer

The group articulates the activities in support of bees, the environment and the beekeeping sector through the following research areas:

Pathology: biology of the parasitic mite Varroa destructor and biological and biotechnical methods to control its reproduction and development of alternative methods to prevent bacterial (Paenibacillus larvae) and fungal (Nosema ceranae) infections, diagnosis and control techniques for Aethina tumida and Vespa velutina.

Nutrition: evaluation of the effect of nutrition on the health of bees in realistic contexts of colony stress due to lack or insufficient beekeeping, and repercussions on the bee's immune system.

Genetics: genetic improvement of subspecies of bees reared on the Italian territory with particular attention to disease resistance characteristics characterization of the biodiversity of the Italian populations of Apis mellifera.

Biomonitoring: use of Apis mellifera and other Apoidea to evaluate the effect of agronomic practices on pollinating insects, the health of agro-ecosystems or urban and industrial environments.

Ecotoxicology: development of protocols for evaluating the effect of pesticides on bees and other pollinators.

Apoidea wild animals: monitoring and characterization of Apoidei populations.

Product enhancement: enhancement of bee production through studies and experiments aimed at the characterization and qualification of the productions.

In addition to research activities, the group carries out institutional activities and services:

Agriculture and environment: Istat data for the second quarter of 2016 show how a increase in hours worked in professions related to agriculture which have undergone the greatest increase of all, +5%, about double that recorded in the services sector, which grew by 2.3%, and in the industrial sector, which had an increase of 2.7%. These data confirm therenewed interest of the new generations in the professions related to the environment, an interest in continuous and stable growth (in the first quarter of 2016, again according to Istat, the increase was 5.8%). Coldiretti Campania, interpreting the Istat data, notes how the environmental and agricultural professions show a really positive trend which, on a territorial level, is expressed with a growth of + 1.4% in South, of the 0.8% to the Center and of 0.6% to the North. The growing data seem, among other things, a trend destined to continue: just think that, again from Istat data, in 2015 there was a total increase of 6.2% in the number of employed in agriculture and in professions related to the environment, a a value about ten times higher than the average of all other sectors, with 27 thousand more new workers than the previous year.

THE works relating to agriculture and the environment they are different and the most disparate: we are talking about related professions for example in the wine sector (sommelier, oenologist, winemaker) but also of works related to the field ofastronomy (which influences, among other things, the way of working in biodynamic agriculture), of seismology or of the meteorology. Clearly professions such as agricultural expert and theolive grower, like theecologist, the biologist and the dairyman. Let's not forget who intends to pursue a profession in aquaculture, or whoever wishes to do the gardener, lo zoologist… And those who want to get in touch with the earth more closely and intend open a farm to do thefarmer hard and pure, of course! Considering, among other things, that Coldiretti Campania estimates that almost 10% of new businesses run by under 35s born in the second quarter of 2016 operate in agriculture, it seems that the sector is undergoing a rejuvenation that will lead to the use of increasingly advanced and profitable techniques for all the professions involved. If you think, therefore, that a job in the agricultural or environmental field may be in your future, then we give you the possibility of discover some training courses and professional courses for the professions in the Agriculture and Environment sector.

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The weather has a fundamental influence on the agricultural management of the territory and strongly affects the productions, in both qualitative and quantitative terms. Knowledge of the characteristics of the local climate has always guided crop choices and livestock activities, while the planning of agricultural activities cannot ignore the meteorological trend of the agricultural season.

The study of the relationships between meteorological variables and the different components of the agroecosystem is the subject of a particular discipline, agrometeorology, which has assumed an increasingly important role in agricultural planning, due to the greater meteorological variability of recent years. , and in particular of the growing diffusion and intensification of extreme phenomena.

Within the CREA Agriculture and Environment, scientific research activities are carried out in the agrometeorology sector, with the aim of developing analysis methodologies, indices, indicators and modeling. Institutional research activities are also carried out to enhance agro-meteorological resources and the wealth of information and skills in the agrometeorology sector, through coordination with the Regions and Mipaaf, and to provide technical support to policy maker.

A specific section of the site is under development to provide periodically updated agro-meteorological information.

2021, an important year

Restore forests and wetlands, for example, it is useful to mitigate the climate crisis, absorb CO2 and reduce the risk of flooding, erosion and landslides caused by exceptional rainfall. Educating and helping smallholder farmers to sustainable land use is an important step in change, but governments need to step up their efforts: currently only a fraction of global climate finance is invested in soil protection. The real turning point will be providing incentives to those who are committed to sustainability and taking them away from those who implement unsustainable practices.

At the last United Nations General Assembly in 2020, world leaders representing governments, companies and institutions signed a commitment to the recovery of biodiversity. In 2021 the United Nations assembly for theenvironment, the UN conference on oceans, the Conferences on climate change (Cop 26), on biodiversity (Cop 15) and on desertification (Cop 15). The congress ofInternational Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the United Nations summit on food systems and the UN decade for ecosystem restoration. A year full of activity, which we hope will lead to concrete results for sustainability in agriculture and environmental protection.

The Department

The Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment (Di3A) of the University of Catania starts its activity on November 1st 2014, following the merger of the DiGeSA (Department of Management of Agri-food and Environmental Systems) and DISPA (Department of Production Sciences) departments Agriculture and Food), in turn deriving from the departments and, before that, from the institutes of the former Faculty of Agriculture.

Di3A's mission is to produce high quality scientific research with a high social and economic impact and to organize study courses and other educational activities with highly innovative content and training objectives designed to meet the current needs of society and the labor market. , with particular reference to the areas of agricultural and food production and environmental protection in the Mediterranean Basin.

The Department brings together professors and researchers from various scientific-disciplinary sectors of the scientific area 07 - Agricultural and veterinary sciences (AGR / 01, AGR / 02, AGR / 03, AGR / 04, AGR / 07, AGR / 08, AGR / 09, AGR / 10, AGR / 11, AGR / 12, AGR / 13, AGR / 15, AGR / 16, AGR / 17, AGR / 18, AGR / 19), scientific area 05 - Biological sciences ( BIO / 03, BIO / 10), of the scientific area 01 - Mathematical and computer sciences (MAT / 04) and of the scientific area 11 - Historical, philosophical, pedagogical and psychological sciences (M-GGR / 02). They carry out their research activities in the field of agro-ecosystem management, food and non-food crops, plant biotechnology, agricultural chemistry, food technology, animal biotechnology and livestock production.

Di3A professors are mainly involved in the Bachelor's and Master's Degree Courses and in the Masters and Research Doctorates assigned to the Department.

The Department is organized into the following sections, which group together researchers from homogeneous scientific-disciplinary sectors:

The Department has suitable teaching facilities, equipped and modern laboratories and rich libraries to support research and teaching activities.

Di3A researchers attract funding from national and international public bodies as well as through contracts and agreements with private companies, testifying to a fervent transfer of innovations and skills developed within the Department. To better achieve these objectives, Di3A maintains scientific relations with various Italian and foreign universities, with numerous national and international research bodies, adheres to qualified networks and actively participates in the EU program "Erasmus".

The ECDL-GIS Test Center operates within the Department, which also organizes courses on Geographic Information Systems aimed at acquiring European certification.

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