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Valagro, a leader in the production and marketing of biostimulants and specialty nutrients, and ALSIA, the Basilicata Agency for Development and Innovation in Agriculture, will today open the Valagro@PHENOLab joint laboratory at ALSIA's Metapontum Agrobios Research Centre (Metaponto – MT, Italy).
The new research facility is the result of a long-term partnership designed to bring together the Metapontum Agrobios Research Centre's skills in the field of phenomics and Valagro's know-how in the field of biostimulants. The joint venture is part of a scientific collaboration agreement running from 2015-2020 that envisages a total investment of 600 thousand euros.
These resources will support research into the development of new biostimulant solutions that can make crops more efficient in terms of their water consumption (water use efficiency) and increase their ability to absorb nutrients naturally present in the soil (nutrient use efficiency) and respond to specific environmental stressors (cold, excess water, etc.).
Furthermore, the joint laboratory will focus on fine-tuning innovative diagnostic and analysis technologies that will permit the increasingly targeted use of nutritional inputs and biostimulants as part of precision agriculture.
Alberto Piaggesi, Global R&D Director, Valagro: "In line with Valagro's aim to meet the number one priority of modern farming, i.e. combining productivity and sustainability, Valagro and ALSIA's joint research project will focus on the development of innovative biostimulant solutions and technologies that can help farmers to obtain higher yields and healthier crops, optimising the use of production inputs such as water and fertilisers and minimising the environmental impact of agricultural methods".
To carry out the research, the Valagro@PHENOLab laboratory will be able to count on a dedicated research team consisting of three researchers from the Metapontum Agrobios Centre and on a plant phenotyping platform based on the 3D Scanalyzer system, which speeds up the process of phenomic analysis and provides more accurate results. The platform can automatically detect morphometric parameters such as the size, volume, height and distribution of a plant's biomass as well as colorimetric parameters such as the colouring of the leaves, the analysis of the roots, the water content and the health of the plant. By automating the image acquisition process, it will be possible to work on an enormous number of plants (around 100 plants per hour) .
Domenico Romaniello, Director, ALSIA: "The agreement with Valagro is the result of careful work, drawing on our Agency's indisputable ability to offer effective, high-quality services across Basilicata, including to major companies. Our "Metapontum Agrobios" Research Centre in Pantanello, Metaponto, is the main hub of the national PhenItaly network and one of the most important nodes in Europe's EPPN2020 phenotyping network. It boasts the only national phenotyping platform, which is featured in the ESFRI roadmap of excellent European research infrastructures as part of the EMPHASIS project. This is the place where public and private organisations can meet to establish wide-ranging agreements, especially if regional policies concerning investment in industrial research and the development of research infrastructures are built up around the centre".