Meet the partners – AGROINNOVA from Italy

Massimo Pugliese, University of Torino - Agroinnova

Massimo Pugliese, University of Torino - Agroinnova

What kind of organisation is AGROINNOVA?

Established at the University of Torino in 2002, AGROINNOVA is the Centre of Competence for Innovation in the Agro-environmental field which carries out basic and applied research, knowledge and technology transfer, life-long learning and communication on up-to-date topics in the agro-environmental and agro-food sectors.

What is your role in the NUTRIMAN project? 

Our main role is to carry out best practice interactive demonstrations, dissemination and communication activities to Italian farmers and producers. Furthermore, we contribute to the collection and preparation of practice-oriented knowledge for nitrogen and phosphorus recovery and in particular on compost.

What about the NUTRIMAN project triggered your interest?

Agroinnova has already taken part in previous research projects on nutrient recovery at European level, such as REFERTIL (290785) and PROTECTOR (514082), and we believe that the generated knowledge and research results achieved in this area must be further exploited. The NUTRIMAN project triggered our interest because it is focused on transferring innovation and knowledge to farmers. We strongly believe that it is important to develop connections between applied researches with practitioners, helping farmers to access concrete and practical results that respond to challenges they are facing in the area of safe N/P nutrient supply.

What nutrient management problems are farmers facing in Italy?

Farmers in Italy are facing several problems. First of all, there is the need to maintain and improve the soil organic matter content, especially under this changing climate, using high-quality organic fertilizers and soil improvers.

Secondly, a standardisation of the quality of organic fertilizers is necessary at EU level, and in Italy in particular, to avoid the use of low-quality fertilizers, with a high content of heavy metals or other pollutants.

Third, farmers are looking at novel fertilizers able also to stimulate natural processes to enhance/benefit nutrient uptake, nutrient efficiency, tolerance to abiotic stress, and crop quality.

Third and final, there is the need to develop technologies for recovering nutrients from biowastes, including crop residues.

What do you see as the biggest challenge in moving towards a circular economy in the field of valorisation of agri/food by-products?

The biggest challenge is to recover valuable materials, like nutrients, achieving a high purity of the final products in a sustainable way. For instance, in some cases, organic fertilizers may be lacking purity, and still contain impurities and pollutants.

Moreover, the valorisation of agri/food by-products must be economically sustainable, and technologies must be improved in order to bring into the market more competitive products.

How will you contribute to conserve the NUTRIMAN practical knowledge for more than 10 years after the project finishes?

The technology transfer is among the key activities for Agroinnova - University of Torino, so we will continue our dissemination activities to farmers in the years after the project ends, and hopefully will take part in new projects on circular economy.

What is your wish for NUTRIMAN?

I wish NUTRIMAN to reach all EU farmers associations and producers organisations, and support the introduction in EU of the new EC Regulation 2019/1009 for fertilizers.