Council for Agricultural Research and Agricultural Economy Analysis
Recent publications
Coffee, the most globally prevalent beverage, entails environmental and economic consequences due to the high content of toxic compounds in leftover from brewing. Waste-to-energy technologies propose recovering energy from solid or liquid wastes via various treatment methods. This study investigates the environmental performance of the spent coffee ground application in pellet production as a valuable bio-product by life cycle assessment. System boundaries comprise four stages: (1) spent coffee ground collection; (2) pellet production; (3) thermal energy generation; and (4) waste disposal. The LCA model is interpreted by ReCipe 2016 in both midpoint and endpoint levels per 1 MJ of thermal energy as functional unit. Alternative waste-to-energy approaches into transesterification, pyrolysis, and direct combustion of spent coffee ground are also assessed. The impact assessment shows that the pelletizing process significantly contributes to all impact categories except ozone formation and terrestrial ecotoxicity, which is influenced primarily by the transportation process in the spent coffee ground collection stage. The spent coffee ground pellet can lead to climate change mitigation, and reduction in freshwater eutrophication and use of resources due to credits from ash disposed to landfill. Biodiesel is the worst potential option among alternative scenarios, while pellet production and bio-oil demonstrate the most favorable environmental profiles for all impact categories. Damage assessment indicates that pellet production and alternative scenarios mainly influence human health.
In the present study, a tangential membrane filtration system was applied to recover phenols from olive mill wastewater. The obtained concentrates were characterised for physico-chemical traits, antioxidant activity and antimicrobial effects. Results indicated that the highest concentration of hydroxytyrosol (7203.7 mg/L) was detected in the concentrate obtained by reverse osmosis, which also showed the highest antioxidant and antimicrobial activity. Moreover, the same concentrate was added, at different ratio, up to 4:250 v/v, into a commercial blood orange juice. The fortified juice with the addition of the concentrate, up to 2:250 v/v ratio, did not show off-flavour and off-odour compared to the control. Furthermore, after 60 days of refrigerated storage, the fortified juice exhibited a hydroxytyrosol content still complying with the daily intake recommended by EFSA health claim. The obtained results can be industrially useful in producing orange juice added with a natural antioxidant concentrate as a ‘clean label’ ingredient.
The aim of this work was to assess the impact of a novel P nanofertilizer (P-NF) on P solubility, microbial toxicity, soil respiration rate, soil enzyme activity and soil microbial community composition of two soils with contrasting properties in a laboratory incubation study. From the comparison with a commercial triple superphosphate (TSP), the P-NF induced lower release of soluble P, did not cause microbial toxicity, nor reduced soil respiration. Among the measured enzyme activities involved in C, N, P and S mineralization, only the protease activity was significantly inhibited by the P-NF in both the studied soils. Analysis of soil microbial communities showed no significant impacts on bacteria, fungi and archaea, after 1 and 7 d of incubation. We concluded that the tested novel P-NF could be safely used in agriculture.
  • Simona ViolinoSimona Violino
  • Cosimo TaitiCosimo Taiti
  • Elettra MaroneElettra Marone
  • [...]
  • Corrado CostaCorrado Costa
EVOO is a fundamental ingredient for the Mediterranean diet representing one of the most important foods made in Italy for its quality and organoleptic properties. The purpose of this study was to classify 119 Italian EVOO samples, analysing values from VIS–NIR spectral data and sensory analysis. To obtain this classification, a multivariate metric index has been realized through the Soft Independent Modeling of Class Analogy (SIMCA) analysing the dataset of oils and classifying them into “Superior quality” and “Standard quality”. The result of the SIMCA has shown a correct classification of the samples, highlighting among those of the “Superior” class also top samples from the qualitative point of view, such as that of the Company “Passo della Palomba” and “Castello di Monte Vibiano Vecchio” who won a medal at the EVOO 2021 World Competition. This matrix index has been a useful tool to classify Italian EVOO samples following of their quality, differentiating the most promising oils from commercial ones and of lower quality.
Increasing evidence has shown the potential for foods made from anthocyanin‐rich cereal grains to reduce the development and progression of many degenerative chronic diseases. Among cereals, only pigmented rice and maize have been used for food production, whereas for blue and purple wheat grains the food industry has been more limited. In the light of this, the present study was aimed at characterizing the whole meal, bran and flour of the blue bread wheat ‘Sebesta Blue‐2’ and the purple durum wheats ‘T‐1303’ and ‘ELS 6304‐56’ in relation to their total phenolic content (TPC), total proanthocyanin content (TPrC), total anthocyanin content (TAC) and total antioxidant activity (TAA) determined spectrophotometrically, and their anthocyanin profile and TAC determined by HPLC (TACHPLC). Among the milling fractions, the bran showed the highest phytochemical content and antioxidant activity, with values 1.6–8.3‐fold and 4.0–9.3‐fold higher than those observed in the whole meal, and flour, respectively. Among genotypes, the highest phytochemical content and antioxidant activity were observed in Sebesta Blue‐2, followed by T‐1303 and ELS 6304‐56. The strongest differences among genotypes concerned the TACHPLC, with values that in Sebesta Blue‐2 were 4.8‐ and 14.1‐fold higher than T‐1303 and ELS 6304‐56, respectively. Multivariate analysis highlighted the best profile in terms of phytochemical content and antioxidant activity in the bran of Sebesta Blue‐2 with very high values of TPC, TPrC, glycosylated anthocyanins and TAA, followed by the bran of T‐1303, with high‐to‐very high values of TPC, TPrC, anthocyanins and TAA, and the whole meal of Sebesta Blue‐2, with high values of glycosylated anthocyanins and intermediate values of TPC, TPrC, and TAA. The bran of Sebesta Blue‐2 and T‐1303 could be used as additive in cereal‐based fortified‐functional foods or could be further processed to produce nutraceutical supplements. The whole meal of Sebesta Blue‐2 could be used as starting material for the preparation of baked products rich in health promoting compounds. The present study is one of the few studies to report the anthocyanin profile for the milling fractions of pigmented grains and is the first to report the existence of proanthocyanidins in blue and purple wheat grains and their milling fractions. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Appropriate statistical analysis of the validation data for diagnostic tests facilitates the evaluation of the performance criteria and increases the confidence in the conclusions drawn from these data. A comprehensive approach to analysing and reporting data from validation studies and inter‐laboratory comparisons such as test performance studies is described. The proposed methods, including statistical analyses, presentation and interpretation of the data, are illustrated using a real dataset generated during a test performance study conducted in the framework of the European project, VALITEST. This analytical approach uses, wherever possible and whenever applicable, statistical analyses recommended by international standards illustrating their application to plant health diagnostic tests. The present work is addressed to plant health diagnosticians and researchers interested and/or involved in the validation of plant diagnostic tests, and also aims to convey the necessary information to those without a statistical background. Detailed statistical explanations are provided in the Appendices. Une analyse statistique appropriée des données de validation des tests de diagnostic facilite l'évaluation des critères de performance et augmente la confiance dans les résultats tirés de ces données. Cet article décrit une approche globale qui consiste à analyser et rapporter les données issues d’études de validation et d’études comparatives inter‐laboratoires telles que les études de performance de tests. Les méthodes proposées, notamment les analyses statistiques, la présentation et l'interprétation des données, sont illustrées dans cet article à partir d'un jeu de données réel généré lors d'une étude de performance de test menée dans le cadre du projet européen VALITEST. Cette approche analytique utilise, lorsque cela est possible et applicable, les analyses statistiques recommandées par les normes internationales illustrant ainsi leur application aux tests de diagnostic phytosanitaire. Le présent article s'adresse aux professionnels du diagnostic phytosanitaire et aux chercheurs intéressés et/ou impliqués dans la validation de tests de diagnostic phytosanitaire. Il vise également à transmettre les informations nécessaires à ceux qui n'ont pas de formation statistique. Des explications statistiques détaillées sont fournies en annexes. Должный статистический анализ валидационных данных для диагностических тестов облегчает оценку критериев эффективности и повышает доверие к выводам, сделанным на основе этих данных. Описан комплексный подход к анализу и представлению данных валидационных исследований и межлабораторных сравнений, таких как исследования эффективности тестов. Предлагаемые методы, включая статистический анализ, представление и интерпретацию данных, проиллюстрированы реальным набором данных, полученных в ходе исследования эффективности испытаний, проведенного в рамках европейского проекта VALITEST. Этот аналитический подход использует, где это возможно и когда применимо, статистические анализы, рекомендованные международными стандартами, иллюстрируюя их применимость в диагностических тестах для защиты здоровья растений. Данная работа адресована специалистам по диагностике защиты растений и исследователям, заинтересованным и/или участвующим в валидации тестов для диагностики в защите растений, а также призвана донести необходимую информацию до тех, кто не имеет статистического образования. Подробные статистические пояснения приведены в приложениях.
One of the basic requirements for sustainable forest management in mixed broadleaved stands is to provide suitable conditions for natural regeneration of trees. These conditions include, but are not limited to, the frequency, quality and the composition of seedling species. Compacted soil layers caused by forest machinery traffic are the most common problem affecting seedling establishment and growth after skidding operations. In this study, we evaluated the frequency, quality, diversity of seedling species and physicochemical properties of soil on 10-, 20- and 30-year-old abandoned skid trails. Further comparison to the values of the mentioned above parameters in control areas allowed for the evaluation in terms of natural recovery processes, under varying traffic intensity and the longitudinal slope of the skid trails in a mixed broadleaved forest. Results showed that there is a significant positive trend of recovery for soil physicochemical properties and ecological characteristics (density and quality) of seedling growing on the skid trails. The time required to recover soil properties and ecological attributes of seedlings increased with increasing traffic intensity and slope of the skid trail. Our results showed that it takes 20 and 30 years to fully recover the chemical and physical properties of the soil, respectively. On the 30-year-old skid trails, density and species diversity indices were fully recovered, but the quality of the seedlings was not restored to the control conditions. The results suggest the importance of a proper planning of the skid trail network, avoiding in particular skid trails with a slope gradient higher than 20%.
To minimize the burden on periodical orchard termination and renewal, complete tree removal and processing represent the most effective work technique, when the above- and below-ground tree portions are kept together and removed in one single action. However, the presence of rootstocks imposes specific biomass processing techniques, when turning the removals into wood fuel. In particular, one needs to use a comminuting machine that can cope with soild contamination and introduce a cleaning step to remove soil particles from the feedstock. The goal of this research was to determine if one can efficiently process complete trees arising from orchard termination conducted as an integrated single-pass operation. The processing system under testing consisted of a commercial set-up commonly used when producing compost at recycle yards and was obtained by coupling a slow-speed shredder with a rotary sieve in an on-line arrangement. Productivity levels were quite stable, varying between 17 and 24 tPMH⁻¹. Total system cost was 304 € per scheduled machine hour (SMH) and processing cost ranged from 18 to 25 €t⁻¹. 82% of the input material ended into the fuelwood stream, which still contained some residual contamination estimated at 7% (close enough to the ash content of orchard pruning residues). Therefore, the cost of orchard termination and disposal is reduced, and an additional fuel stream can be captured and directed towards the expanding bioenergy sector. Combined shredding and screening represents a further example of integration and is essential to the efficient upgrading of complete tree material into a viable fuel.
Lupin seeds are rich in proteins, lipids and bioactive compounds, but before consumption must be debittered to remove toxic alkaloids. Traditionally, debittering is a water-intensive and protracted process, lasting up to six days. To develop a more efficient procedure, different washing solutions (0.5% and 1% NaCl or citric acid), with or without the use of ultrasound, were applied on Lupinus albus seeds and compared to two control methods, the first with water and the second with a sodium chloride solution. The sonication did not accelerate debittering, while the sodium chloride and citric acid solutions significantly shortened debittering time, reduced water consumption and decreased alkaloid content to commercial values (0.31-1.03 g/kg dry matter). Debittering with a 1% citric acid solution saved 88 h and 65 L water/kg dry lupin compared to the water control method, and 13 h and 31 L water/kg dry lupin compared to the salt solution control method. The electronic tongue grouped the experimental and commercial samples in well-defined clusters; bitter and umami tastes were the main factors, well correlated with alkaloid content. The proposed procedure, either with citric acid or sodium chloride, could be easily adopted by the industry to reduce time and costs of lupin debittering.
  • P. AdamoP. Adamo
  • A. BenedettiA. Benedetti
  • E. BonifacioE. Bonifacio
  • [...]
  • S. VingianiS. Vingiani
Gender equality in Italian soil science is still far from being a reality although an in-depth investigation has never been carried out. In this work we analyse data on women soil scientists working in public research institutions and universities as well as on those affiliated with soil science societies, considering the changes in gender balance with time. We also recall three female pioneers in Italian soil science who played a key role in both research and scientific societies. An analysis of the impact of papers authored by Italian women is finally provided to gauge the contribution of Italian women to soil science in the last 20 years. The results show that the National Research Institutions reached a more equal balance between genders compared to universities. With regard to scientific societies, we observed a strong lack of female inclusion in the first years of the Italian Soil Science Society, founded in 1952, and the Italian Society of Pedology, even if it was founded much later in 1998. The Italian Society of Agricultural Chemistry was less discriminant, likely due to the presence of different sub-disciplines traditionally more open to women, although always far from real equality. With time, in all societies and research institutions we registered a positive trend with a better balance and a pro-active participation of women. However, we observed a persistent loss of highly qualified women resources from the training phase to the beginning of the career as well as under-representation of women in top roles and in the research centre leaderships. However, when we evaluated the scientific production, no statistical differences appear between women and men at all career levels, confirming the key contribution of women to soil science, despite facing major professional difficulties and disparities. These results show that, notwithstanding the marked progress in the number of women entering and working in Italian soil science, beyond the hard numbers, gender equality still remains a challenge and requires greater investments in resources and research toward structural and systemic interventions that may successfully lead to a more gender-balanced society.
This study focuses on the development, implementation and application of a spatial-based decision support tool—named r.forcircular—aimed at quantifying both the level of the circular bioeconomy and the financial performance in the forest-based sector. The methodology merges a set of indicators based on the 4R framework (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recover) of circular economy in a multicriteria approach. Outputs are computed for different scenarios and are calibrated based on variations in the selling price of raw materials and on higher mechanisation of production process phases (felling, processing, extraction and chipping of wood residues). The increase in wood assortment value leads to an improvement in the sustainability of the forest-wood supply chain in circular bioeconomy and financial terms. The application of a higher level of mechanisation seems to have conflicting results compared to those of other scenarios. The r.forcircular model was tested in an Italian case study (in the Municipality Union of Valdarno and Valdisieve in the Tuscany region, Italy) with the aim of understanding its applicability and replicability in other contexts. The results of the test showed that, in the study area, superior outcomes were observed for high forests than for coppices due to the low value of wood products obtainable from coppices.
As insects have started to enter the eating habits of Western countries, an increasing amount of literature regarding the mulberry silkworm (Bombyx mori) prospective application as food has been published. Despite this growing interest, there is currently no systematic review of silkworm nutritional composition available. In this paper, we performed a systematic review of the recent available literature on the nutrient composition of mulberry silkworm pupae. After screening the titles and abstracts of 14,008 studies retrieved from three scientific databases, data about nutrients was extracted from 29 selected papers, together with their related variables. This systematic review provides an overview of the variety of data reported in the literature and highlights that many elements contribute to hindering a sound comparison of the different nutritional values reported for silkworm pupae. The observed variability of the composition data reported could be due to differences in diet, strains, pretreatments, and origin of the silkworm analyzed. However, all these variables were not always available and should be reported in future studies to simplify the data comparison.
The unsustainability of the globalized food system is a relevant debate. Despite the vast amount of literature on sustainable food systems, there is little research explaining how food system innovations can scale impact and influence systemic change. Moreover, not much literature considers the territorial context in which innovations take place, as a key factor in fostering transition. In this paper, we attempt to understand how territorial factors, such as actors and networks, influence sustainable food system transition. To achieve this goal, we built and applied an original methodology that was able to map the specific territorial context and dynamics. Considering a case study of 12 urban food system innovations in Montpellier (France), we reconstructed the relational context , in order to demonstrate the key role of embedded territorial dynamics in fostering sustainable transition. The application of our methodology produced about seven territorial conditions, which are defined by the differences between innovations, power relations and dynamics, the role of politics and the so-called "spaces of governance". Each of these conditions plays a critical role in the transition to a sustainable food system.
Citrus spp. are spread mainly in the Mediterranean basin and represent the largest fruit source for human consumption. Postharvest losses, mainly due to diseases and metabolic disorders of fruits, can cause severe wastage, reaching 30 to 50% of the total production. Preserving quality and extending shelf life are essential objectives for postharvest technological innovation, determined by the proper handling, treatment, storage and transport of harvested produce. Moreover, the application of novel sustainable strategies is critical for the reduction of synthetic fungicide residues on fruit surfaces and the impact on the environment caused by waste disposal of fungicides. In this article, the current knowledge about the safest and more sustainable strategies, as well as advanced postharvest handling and storage technologies, will be critically reviewed.
Key message pPPO16, the first Ea-inducible promoter cloned from apple, can be a useful component of intragenic strategies to create fire blight resistant apple genotypes. Abstract Intragenesis is an important alternative to transgenesis to produce modified plants containing native DNA only. A key point to develop such a strategy is the availability of regulatory sequences controlling the expression of the gene of interest. With the aim of finding apple gene promoters either inducible by the fire blight pathogen Erwinia amylovora ( Ea ) or moderately constitutive, we focused on polyphenoloxidase genes ( PPO ). These genes encode oxidative enzymes involved in many physiological processes and have been previously shown to be upregulated during the Ea infection process. We found ten PPO and two PPO-like sequences in the apple genome and characterized the promoters of MdPPO16 ( pPPO16 ) and MdKFDV02 PPO -like ( pKFDV02 ) for their potential as Ea -inducible and low-constitutive regulatory sequences, respectively. Expression levels of reporter genes fused to these promoters and transiently or stably expressed in apple were quantified after various treatments. Unlike pKFDV02 which displayed a variable activity, pPPO16 allowed a fast and strong expression of transgenes in apple following Ea infection in a Type 3 Secretion System dependent manner. Altogether our results does not confirmed pKFDV02 as a constitutive and weak promoter whereas pPPO16 , the first Ea -inducible promoter cloned from apple, can be a useful component of intragenic strategies to create fire blight resistant apple genotypes.
The thermal degradation (pyrolysis) of renewable biomass (as crop residues or energy crops) into a carbon-rich byproduct has been proposed as a practice to fight soil degradation and to foster the mitigation of climate change. The pyrolysis conditions and the characteristics of the feedstock influence the quality of the biochar. The present study used a pilot updraft reactor to make a pyrogasification of the biomass of giant reed (Arundo donax L.). The temperature varied in the range 300–400 °C and the process lasted 60–90 min, conditions specific to slow pyrolysis. The work aimed to compare three airflow rates (0.001 m3 s−1, 0.0007 m3 s−1, and natural ventilation) and the Arundo biomass collected in winter (February) or summer (June), on the base of known harvesting time. The biochar yield was comparable between February (19.8%) and June (21.8%) but the biochar composition in terms of CHNSO was depending on the airflow rate. The values of the molar ratios indicated that the biochar produced with Arundo collected in winter (February) in presence of the air (0.001 and 0.0007 m3 s−1) may have the highest level of aromaticity (H/C ratio), hydrophilicity, and polarity. Germination test on lettuce seeds showed different results: the winter biochar produced at 0.0007 m3 s−1 gave germination comparable to the control up to a concentration in the substrate up to 2% in weight; the summer biochar reduced the growth of the seedlings already at 0.5% when produced under natural ventilation.
Using livestock residues as alternative fertilizers is a sustainable practice which recycles nutrients that would otherwise be lost. However, organic fertilizers may have a large impact on N2O emissions, offsetting the beneficial effects of C sequestration. After four years from biochar application, greenhouse gas fluxes were monitored for two years from a Maize field fertilized with digestate, slurry, or urea, with and without biochar. The objectives of the present study were to assess (i) the climate feedback of using residues from the livestock chain as alternative fertilizers and (ii) the contribution of biochar in mitigating GHGs emissions, while increasing the organic C in soil. Digestate was shown to have the highest impact on CO2 and N2O emissions from soil, with respect to mineral fertilization (+29 and +142%), more than slurry (+21 and −5%), whereas both residues positively affected CH4 uptake (+5 and +14%, respectively). The maximum N2O peaks occurred between 7-20 days after fertilization, accounting for 61% of total emissions, on average. Biochar was effective in reducing N2O emissions derived from mineral fertilization and digestate (−54% and −17%, respectively). An excess of labile organic matter and N induced the highest CO2 emissions and N2O peaks, independent of-or even triggered by-biochar. Mitigation of GHG emissions, from soils fertilized with livestock chain residue, can be obtained using biochar, but with limitations dependent on (i) the quantity of organic matter added, (ii) its quality, and (iii) the time from application: those aspects that deserve further investigations.
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977 members
Luigi Pari
  • Research Unit for Agricultural Engineering (Roma) (CRA-ING)
Marco Caruso
  • Research Centre for Olive, Fruit and Citrus Crops
Valentina Picchi
  • Research Centre for Engineering and Agro-Food Processing (CREA-IT)
Via Casamassima 148, 70010, Rome, Italy