Innovation needs in the Marche Region and in the stone fruit production
Stone fruit are the main fruit production of the Marche Region: the most important areas are “Valdaso” and “Valle del Foglia”. The too little farmers’ knowledge about coping with Monilinia fructicola hinders the production from a qualitative and quantitative point of view.
The disease can spread also during storage phase, busting the fresh fruit and vegetable waste. Therefore several pesticides are used, sometimes without the farmers’ awareness of their real need.
In the last years the Marche Region specification for integrated control presents more specific control measures to fight this pest.
In other fruit areas such as Spain and New Zealand new forecasting models have been developed to optimize the pesticides’ use against Monilinia fructicola, which might be implemented in the orchards of the Marche Region as well.
The general objectives pursued by the ZeroSprechi project are the protection of the environment, of the final consumers and agricultural operators’ health, producing high quality products and reducing the waste of fresh fruit and vegetables. These objectives can be achieved optimizing the defense strategies and lowering the number of treatments in the field, as well as experimenting innovative intervention models for integrated and biological agriculture. The involved farms will be the first beneficiaries of the project results, which will be disclosed to all fruit farms in the Marche Region.
Operational objectives and innovations
The project partners aim to enhance the production of stone fruits and their quality in post-harvest, increasing the fruit shelf life and reducing wastes. To optimize the brown rot control, reducing the pesticide residues and post-harvest fruit wastes, the following innovations are meant to be implemented in the sector:
- Application of already overseas validated forecasting tools to best time the treatments and possibly reduce the pesticide applications;
- Pesticides applications, also through the employment of a prototype with an adjusted water jet to reduce the release of pesticides in the environment;
- Analysis of the treated stone fruits for the occurrence of pesticide residues;
- Define low impact plant protection strategies both for organic as well as for integrated farming;
- Storage of the harvested stone fruit by means of innovative packaging and use of ozone to reduce the occurrence of post-harvest brown rot;
- Evaluation of the stone fruit shelf life simulating the final user’s home life and studying the brown rot development;
- Analysis of the composition of the present Monilinia fructicola, of their pesticide-resistance and interactions with Diptera Drosophilidae;
- Assessment of the qualitative features of the stone fruits harvested at different stages of ripeness and their supply to the final consumers informing them on the typical features of the Marche Region product.
The Players: Operative Group (OG), AAA and PIF
The ZeroSprechi Operative Group (OG) is made of the Lead Partner, two farms, the UNIVPM (Marche Polytechnic University), ASSAM (Agency for Agro-food Sector Services of the Marche Region) as research bodies and a consultant (Partners).
The farms agreed to the Marche Region environmental Agreements (AAA) “Valdaso” and “Valle del Foglia” which aim to develop the farmers’ awareness on the water bodies protection, on productive and control methods in organic and integrated agriculture.
ZeroSprechi is also linked to other chain projects of the Marche Region as the PIFs (integrated chain projects). For example the “Verde Valdaso” PIF intends to link those orchards employing integrated and organic production systems, in order to improve their competitiveness on local and international markets.
Target farms other than partners
The several little and middle-size farms of the stone fruit sector located in the “Valdaso” and “Valle del Foglia” areas as well as all stone fruit farms, which agreed to the Marche Region environmental Agreements (AAA) will benefit from ZeroSprechi.
The tests will be carried out in the business orchards of the three involved farms, by means of control forecasting models and strategies against the brown rot (Monilinia fructicola). Moreover, treatments with an adjusted water jet will be run at the Acciarri Farm, where the fruits treated with the several Monilinia fructicola control strategies, will be stored in atmosphere with ozone to proof the effects of storage and its shelf life.
Some surveys will be carried out to detect drosophilic diptera in the partner farms and their role in the Monilinia fructicola development.
Dissemination and communication
ASSAM (Agency for Agro-food Sector Services of the Marche Region), the “Valle del Foglia producers association” as well as the involved farms, Agricolae and the UNVIPM will be in charge of the project dissemination and communication.
The partners’ internal interaction and the ongoing information will be carried by means of: meetings, also via conference calls or Skype, the project website dedicated to the O.G. and social networks. Other communication tools will be: the e-mail address dedicated to the O.G., internal informative documents, the project check and the networking with similar European versions of the O.G. (i.e. the Spanish O.G. “Fruit-Net control of Monilinia spp. in stone fruits”).
The strategies transferred to the business orchards will help to reduce the pesticide residues in the environment and on stone fruits, to extend the fruits self-life and to better their quality for the end- user, conveying an idea of sustainability to the entire stone fruit production chain of the Marche Region.