Improving the sustainability and quality in organic wheat from the Emilia-Romagna region

BettER-Bio is a project supported by the Emilia-Romagna Region in the framework of the 2014-2020 Rural Development Programme, measure 16.1.01, Focus Area 3A. BettER-Bio is a two-years project of Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (coordination and scientific management), Azienda Agraria Sperimentale Stuard, Open Fields, Molino Grassi, il Centro di Formazione, Sperimentazione e Innovazione “Vittorio Tadini”, SO.PR.E.D. Società Cooperativa Agricola, Giovanelli Simone farm and Guglielmi Giuliano e Zanelli Anna farm.

BettER-Bio intends to exploit the many benefits of using bio-stimulants in agriculture, with the ultimate aim of implementing a “green” and sustainable approach to organic wheat production. The specific objectives of the Plan are: i) improving the efficiency of nutrient use in organic wheat; ii) mitigation of the presence of phosphites and ethylphosphonate in organic products, and in wheat in particular; iii) promoting the adaptability of agricultural cultivation systems to climate change; iv) improvement of the technological and nutritional quality of organically produced wheat.

The project activities will be carry out on both durum and bread wheat, using a strategy that integrates biostimulants of microbial origin (mycorrhizae, trichoderma and rhizosphere bacteria) together with non-microbial biostimulants (hydrolyzed proteins). Trials are planned over two seasons (randomized blocks), together with a test on a larger scale (“on farm”). The use of biostimulants will be integrated by DSS decision support systems for optimizing interventions and reducing chemical inputs (both nitrogenous and agrochemical fertilizers, compared to the “traditional” approach). The results will be disseminated to farmers, technicians and stakeholders. The expected results are:

  • Maintenance of production standards in terms of quantity and quality of the product;
  • Reduction of pollutant releases and improvement of water and soil quality, through the reduction in the use of nitrogen fertilizers up to 33%, and therefore mitigation of water contamination, thanks to the use of biostimulant micro-organisms;
  • Verification and adaptation of agricultural cropping systems to climate change, through the rationalization of interventions (fertilization, irrigation and defense) applied according to weather conditions and plant development, therefore linked to real and actual needs, with consequent reduction of waste of resources;
  • Increased resistance of the cultures studied to water stresses through the activity of biostimulant micro-organisms (mycorrhizae and rhizosphere bacteria).

Overall, the approach proposed aims to increase the sustainability of agricultural practices, where yields and quality of the produce are conserved as a tool to ensure an effective long-term sustainability. This aim will be achieved by promoting some natural resources such as beneficial microorganisms or protein-derived hydrolisates (these later, potentially being produced from non food sources or from by-products).

COORDINATOR / TECHNICAL-SCIENTIFIC RESPONSIBLE: Prof. Luigi Lucini, Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

TIMING: 03/2021 – 03/2023

FUNDING: € 221.123,12

Website European Commission – FEASR:

Project supported by: