Agriculture is facing many environmental challenges.
SOIL PROTECTION â€“ The soil carries out many fundamental functions for the environmental balance, such as organic carbon sequestration, conservation of biodiversity and fertility, protection against erosion, adjustment of nutrients and water and gas flow cycle between the atmosphere and the lithosphere, filter and buffer function towards foreign and polluting substances.
Preserving those functions is fundamental to facilitate adaptation processes to climate change impact. The soils, in fact, have a high resilience and a high capacity of absorbing negative impacts if compared to any other natural resource.
WATER CONSUMPTION â€“ It is necessary to identify suitable solutions to save water supplies for irrigation purpose, both to contribute to safeguard the residual flows in water courses and in many uses of the water resources in general, and to get equipped to face crisis caused by droughts and the scarcity of the availability of water (contrasting also the ingression towards inside of the brackish groundwater in the coastal area of the Adriatic Sea) that is expected to increased due to climate change.
USE OF FERTILIZERS â€“ A relevant issue regards the high use of fertilizers, and in particular, the relatively little efficient use (currently estimated to be about 50%) of zootechnical effluents. This can cause nitrates and phosphorus to leach or move with surface runoff in waters, and ammonia and nitrous oxide to be released in the atmosphere due to volatilization processes.
In the first case, the focus is on the quality of water in relation to eutrophication risks of inland and marine coastal waters (â€śNitratesâ€ť directive 676/91/EC and â€śWatersâ€ť directive 2000/60/EC); in the second case the focus is on air quality, the ammonia being the precursor of secondary particulate which constitutes an important part of fine particles, which formation affects wide areas of Po plain (Legislative Decree 171/04 and NEC directive 2001/81/EC).
CROP DEFENSE â€“ A crucial issue concerns the input in the environment of pesticides due to crop defense from weeds and pests. In the context of the thematic Strategy of the EU for a sustainable use of plant protection products (COM(2006)372 and 2009/128/EC directive), emerges the need to identify techniques and solutions suitable to reduce the risks and potential impacts – direct and indirect – that these substances have on natural resources and on human health.