In 2017 Italy experienced one of the worst droughts on record: the Po river reached a record-low level of 3.5 m below its hydrological zero in the month of June. The Po river valley (pianura padana) stretches from the north-west region of Piemonte to center-east Emilia-Romagna. Arguably, it’s one of the most fertile regions in Europe, its intensive agriculture however, relies heavily on irrigation during the summer months. Since October 2016, no significant precipitations occurred over the region, leading to an increasing hydrological deficit, aggravated by the exceptionally high temperatures recorded in June. Continue reading “Drought-proofing crops in Italy: is millet the grain of the future?”
Biologist, science communicator and podcaster Jeremy Cherfas, visits Modesto Petacciato’s farm in Molise, south-east Italy, during the “Let’s Cultivate Diversity” event, June 2017. The event revolves on the deployment of evolutionary populations of cereals in marginal hilly lands, under low-input or organic management.
150 years before Norman Borlaugh’s crosses ushered in the High Yielding Varieties we know today, the Italian pioneer of modern plant breeding provided its nation with the highly strategic self sufficiency in wheat production, during the autarchic effort known as “battaglia del grano” (the battle of the wheat). Nazareno Strampelli’s Durum wheat “Senatore Cappelli” has recently resurged to glory, thanks to its excellent quality for pasta making and suitability to organic conditions.
Ethiopia’s potato production is sharply increasing despite a modest change in cultivated area, thanks to better seed quality and improved cultivars acting as yield drivers. Sourse: FAOSTAT (accessed November 2016)