On the 26th of June 2019 the Vallevecchia farm, owned by the Veneto Region and managed by Veneto Agricoltura, opened its doors for an open field day focused on conservation agriculture. The right circumstance to debate this topic was given by the recent publication of the book “Conservation agriculture – 8 years of experiences in Veneto Region” which collects the results of a number of projects carried out from 2011 to 2018, some of which are still in progress, conducted by the Veneto Region, the University of Padua, Veneto Agricoltura and INEA (National Institute of Agriculture Economics).
This publication reports the results of studies and experiments (including the LIFE HELPSOIL and AGRICARE projects as well as the Monitamb-241i monitoring project of the Rural Development Programme) which allowed a comparison between conservation and conventional agriculture in order to evaluate: crop yields, fuel consumption, organic carbon content in soil, greenhouse gas emissions, water balance, effects on soil physical parameters, root distribution and properties, impact on water quality, integrated pest management, mycotoxins content in cereal grains, weeds and soil biodiversity. The publication also contains technical indications on land management in conservation agriculture and on the profitability of this agricultural practice.
The open field day was also another opportunity to present the European project IWMPRAISE (Integrated Weed Management: PRActical Implementation and Solutions for Europe), a five-year project that Veneto Agricoltura shares with forty other partners from 8 European countries and for which specific experimental trials have been set up at Vallevecchia farm and “La Fagiana” farm located in Eraclea (Province of Venice).The first part of the open day was dedicated to classroom presentations of results stemming from conservation agriculture projects and the 2019 trials in progress.
Following the presentations by Lorenzo Furlan, Serenella Spolon and Francesca Chiarini from Veneto Agricoltura and of Donato Loddo from CNR, the 40 participants were taken out, on site, to witness the Maschio Gaspardo prototype in action which combines inter-row soil cultivation and herbicide band application along crop rows. This innovative machine is used for the experimental trial of weed management on maize with reduced use of herbicides, set up as part of the IWMPRAISE project.
The Maschio Gaspardo prototypeThe effects of using this machine, based on the technological principles of precision agriculture, were subsequently observed and explained at the “La Fagiana” farm where an experimental trial on integrated weed management of maize is run by CNR (Research National Council) in collaboration with Veneto Agricoltura.This trial compares 4 weed control strategies:’
T1 – broadcast application of pre-emergence herbicides (control standard management 1);
T2 – pre-emergence herbicide band application with a sowing machine (traditional band application management);
T3 – broadcast application of post-emergence herbicides (control standard management 2);
T4 – herbicide band application with an innovative system (the Maschio Gaspardo prototype).