Co-financed by the European Union under the LIFE CCM 2018 program, agriCOlture aims to guide the transition of the livestock supply chain of the Emilian Apennine towards more efficient agronomic practices of soil conservation and to a new management of organic matter at farm and territorial scale. Starting point of the project is the significant potential of this sector of the mountain economy for Climate Change mitigation.
More precisely, the project faces the structural difficulty of the emilian mountain agriculture in managing, in a sustainable and efficient way, the organic matter produced by the local important livestock sector, mainly involved in the Parmigiano Reggiano production. The complex morphology of the territory combined with the long duree condition of property fragmentation make the mantainance of field drainages and the balanced distribution of organic matter produced by the farms problematic and expensive. This ends up in marginalizing, deteriorating and finally expelling from the production cycles extended portions of agricultural land. The erosion of fertile soil due to the absence of these good management practices is enhanced by two widespread practices: on the one hand, a radicated tradition of deep tillage and, on the other hand, an excessively long cycle of tillage that bring grassland (mainly multi-year alfalfa fields) to a progressive depletion of productivity.
To deal with this problem, agriCOlture aims to introduce agronomic best practices and appropriate governance strategies in order to demonstrate their effectiveness for the protection of soil organic carbon and in the recovering of marginal and hydrogeologically unstable soils. Concerning the governance, the project intends to update the traditional role that reclamation consortia have played in guaranteeing the conditions for inhabitation and for agricultural production in the Emilian Apennine. It does so by building an innovative partnership that merges the two large Consortia of Emilia Centrale and Burana, with a Research Center specialized in livestock production such as CRPA and an institution aimed at conservation such as the Tuscan–Emilian Apennine National Park.
Objectives and related outputs that the project aims to achieve
> Development and application of protocols/guidelines that match agronomic best practices indicated by scientific research as effective in the conservation of soil organic carbon (crop rotations, conservative agriculture, drainages) to the specific environmental context and agricultural structure of the Emilian Apennines.
> Development and application of a governance model aimed to support the spreading of agronomic best practices linked with the conservation of soil organic carbon and to elaborate strategies, scenarios and policies to guide the livestock sector towards an effective action of Climate Change mitigation and reduction of hydrogeological hazard.
> Development and application of new accounting tools for GHG emissions at farm and territorial scale (with reference to the recent EU Regulation 2018/841).
> The characterization of a relevant number of agricultural soils (240 plots), representative of the complex and stratified pedological nature of the Emilian Apennines
These objectives are translated into the following indicators:
> adoption of the best practices proposed in at least 2.5 hectares of UAA for each demonstration farm, with an increase of this area of 5% at the end of the project.
> 50% of increase in TOC (Total Organic Carbon) for carbon-poor soils (TOC <7 g/kg of soil);
> maintenance of carbon stocks for other soils, as indicated in action C1 as base line of the project;
> a low impact production path is also foreseen for breeding. It is estimated a reduction of the CO2 equivalent emissions of 5% at the end of the project, with a reduction of about 1.178 tons of CO2 emitted by the 15 demonstration farms.