Bioeconomy solutions in agriculture: discover the RELIEF workshop results

Wednesday 29 May 2024

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Farmers today face complex and ambitious challenges: they must produce sustainably, tackle climate change, ensure high yields without polluting, and maintain a decent income. These challenges cannot be addressed by farmers alone. An integrated approach is needed, involving research, education, and business sectors. These actors continuously collaborate to experiment with new technological solutions, practices, and skills to innovate and support the agricultural sector. The RELIEF project is creating opportunities to share experiences and knowledge, thereby promoting more sustainable and efficient agriculture.

On May 23rd, a workshop titled “Bioeconomy in agriculture: understanding the practical opportunities offered by bioeconomy for rural actors” was held at Officine Capodarno in Stia (Arezzo). This event provided a platform to exchange knowledge and practices in circular bioeconomy agriculture and an opportunity to update the skills of the agricultural workforce.

The event, organized by DREAM Italia in collaboration with the University of Florence and CESIE, is part of the RELIEF project that aims to develop and provide an innovative approach to teaching bioeconomy in agriculture, creating specific learning resources for agricultural professionals.

The day began with a welcome address from Lilia Orlandi, President and Business Developer of DREAM, who emphasized the importance of linking academia and civil society and the exchange of practices that enrich both realms. She also noted that the event coincided with the National Bioeconomy Day promoted by Claster Spring, making it even more significant. She reiterated DREAM Italia’s commitment to supporting the agricultural world through innovative projects addressing current challenges and emphasized how knowledge and the adoption of new practices can transform agriculture.

Mariasole Galfré, Environmental Resilience Ambassador and RELIEF project manager for DREAM, outlined the RELIEF project, highlighting the collaborative effort in structuring innovative training for beneficiaries and stressing that bioeconomy makes sense only if integrated into a global circular economy aimed at achieving long-term sustainability.

Paolo Armanasco from the University of Florence discussed the benefits of agrivoltaics, including economic benefits for farmers. During the discussion, questions arose about studies on productivity and the increase in diseases related to the use of agrivoltaic systems.

Giovanni Barbieri, coordinator of the international and European projects area of LAND Social Enterprise, presented the ambitious goals of this young organization in Sicily. LAND adopts an innovative approach to the environment and energy, promoting an agricultural system based on the principles of the green transition and centered on an experimental agrivoltaic plant. The enterprise stands out for its commitment to innovation and research, with a focus on the environment and social regeneration.

Barbieri discussed the crucial role of the agronomist and the importance of the energy component, highlighting the figure of the 4.0 farmer, who combines land knowledge with advanced technologies to improve the efficiency and sustainability of agricultural practices.

LAND, together with CESIE and Coreras, is launching a School of Professional Excellence on Climate-Smart Agriculture in Sicily as part of the EVECSA project. This initiative aims to make agriculture more resilient by training the workforce on new technologies and climate-sensitive farming practices.

Tommaso Barsali from RE-CORD then illustrated the production of biochar and its application in agriculture, explaining how biochar can improve soil fertility and yield by using agricultural residues. He shared results from ongoing experiments, highlighting how biochar, compared to other solutions, helps address climate variability and retains water better than traditional compost.

Silvia Scozzafava from Aichi Obiettivo 20_ BlockCO2 explored the opportunities offered by transparent certification through blockchain technology for agricultural companies. She emphasized the importance of systematizing knowledge and presented her innovative start-up founded in 2020, which helps companies become “net zero.” Dr. Scozzafava highlighted the integrity issues faced with the high reliability of carbon credits obtained from biochar, showing the high potential for using pruning residues.

Sara Guerrini from NOVAMONT discussed the applications of biodegradable and compostable materials in agriculture, focusing on the importance of an integrated biorefinery in the territory. She presented technologies related to agriculture and renewable sources and provided concrete examples of using Mater-Bi in agriculture, demonstrating how agricultural waste can be sustainably valorized.

Maria Piegari from Biodea added a further perspective on the valorization of biomass in agriculture, contributing to the discussion on innovative solutions to improve the sector’s sustainability and productivity.

Pietro Picuno from the University of Basilicata presented the TANGO Circular project, focusing on the valorization of biomass in agriculture, highlighting various training initiatives taking place in Italy.

Leonardo Nibbi from the University of Florence concluded by introducing the RELIEF training, based on a needs analysis and characterized by a multidisciplinary approach. He emphasized that the bioeconomy is a complex sector, as demonstrated by agrivoltaics, which integrates agricultural and technological components.

The RELIEF training is structured in five modules and four learning units each, available both in a university context (3 ECTS) and in a professional training version for field operators (1 ECTS). The educational materials are available in five languages and can also be accessed through an online learning platform, making them accessible to a wide range of users.

The event concluded with a lively discussion space, where participants could share their experiences and opinions on bioeconomy in agriculture.

This workshop represented an important opportunity to explore the practical opportunities offered by the bioeconomy to rural actors, highlighting the importance of collaboration and innovation in promoting sustainable and competitive agriculture.

To know more about the project visit the website https://relief.uop.gr/ and follow us on Facebook.

About RELIEF

RELIEF – euRopean bio-Economy aLliancE in Farming is a project -funded by the European Union that aims to develop an innovative approach to teaching bioeconomy in agriculture, providing specific educational resources for professionals in the sector.

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For further information

Read about RELIEF, visit the website https://relief.uop.gr/ and follow us on Facebook.

Contact Caterina Impastato: caterina.impastato@cesie.org.

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