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Agriculture and Sustainability: An Inseparable Pair - Insights from the SmartVitiNet Project

Modern agriculture, especially in viticulture, is at a crossroads of progress and environmental care. While the world's wine market saw overproduction in 2004 and 2005, demand now surpasses production. Europe, producing two-thirds of the world's wine and with EU vineyards covering 45% of global vine areas, is at the forefront of this shift. Notably, 82.1% of these vineyards are dedicated to quality wine production, integral to the economies of many European countries through cultivation, production, employment, export, and tourism [1].

Sustainability in farming is complex, involving environmental, economic, and social aspects. For instance, the EU's vineyard area in 2015 was 32 million acres, about 1.8% of its total agricultural area. Major contributors include Spain, France, and Italy, accounting for 74.1% of these vineyards [1]. However, challenges like climate change impact viticulture differently across countries, depending on the proportion of viticulture in their total agricultural land and the severity of climate change effects in each region.

Climate change significantly affects ecosystem processes, plant species distribution, and disease patterns, potentially reducing non-irrigated crop yields in southern Europe by up to 50% by 2050 [1]. This has led to rising prices and predictions of a wine shortage within five years, especially for premium wines. Moreover, viticulture faces cultivation challenges like Downy mildew and Powdery mildew, contributing to significant production losses. Alarmingly, 67% of Europe's pesticides are used in viticulture, raising concerns about biodiversity, health, and product quality [1].

The SmartVitiNet project addresses these challenges by pioneering sustainable practices in viticulture. It aims to develop a holistic plant protection system using drones, advanced sensors, and monitoring platforms [2]. This approach aligns with the UN's goal for sustainable agriculture and the EU's target of 25% organic farming land by 2030. Precision viticulture technologies, like remote sensing, provide detailed data on soil conditions, wind, fertilizer needs, water availability, and pest infestations, enabling targeted interventions and reducing pesticide use [3].

In conclusion, the SmartVitiNet project, by integrating advanced technology with sustainable practices, is revolutionizing viticulture. It exemplifies a holistic approach to sustainability, setting a standard for future agricultural initiatives and leading the way to a more sustainable, productive, and environmentally conscious future in agriculture.


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[2] - Matese A, Toscano P, Di Gennaro SF, Genesio L, Vaccari FP, Primicerio J, Belli C, Zaldei A, Bianconi R, Gioli B. Intercomparison of UAV, Aircraft and Satellite Remote Sensing Platforms for Precision Viticulture. Remote Sensing. 2015; 7(3):2971-2990.

[3] - Llorens J, Gil E, Llop J, Escolà A. Variable rate dosing in precision viticulture: Use of electronic devices to improve application efficiency. Crop Protection. 2010;29(3):239-248. doi:10.1016/j.cropro.2009.12.022


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