Manuela Pirovano, BASF's Communication and Sustainability Manager Crop Protection Italy (in the photo below) talked about the company's vision concerning sustainability, stressing its will to become an "ambassador" by introducing innovations, satisfying farmers' needs and working together with its partners.
"To us, sustainability means producing more with less. In addition, in order to be sustainable, a solution must take economic, ecological and social aspects into consideration."
In order to implement its vision, BASF identified 4 lines of action: investing in new solutions and technologies, publicising a responsible use of innovations, supporting new projects and promoting the image of farmers (through the "The greatest job on Earth" slogan).
The Farm Network project
Farm Network is a project sponsored by BASF that has the objective of supporting those programmes that can find the right balance between agricultural production and the safeguarding of the soil and environment for future generations. The ultimate goal is to improve biodiversity and promote a responsible management of water and land.
The European Farm Network was created in 2002 and involves growers in Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and UK. The network is made up of 15 independent companies that work to promote a new sustainable agriculture.
There are also 30 local experts - professional farmers, organisations that safeguard the natural heritage, Universities, BASF and other innovators.
A visit to OrtoSole
OrtoSole is a member of Farm Network and is a perfect example of sustainability applied to agriculture. An itinerary guides visitors like a true "sustainability catalogue".
That is why BASF organised a visit to one of the OrtoSole production sites. The company is located in the Agro Pontino area and is managed by the Tiozzo family, which is able to grow excellent produce in the local sandy soils.
Eugenio, Beniamino and Alessandro, three members of the Tiozzo family who owns OrtoSole.
OrtoSole became a BASF partner in 2012 with the objective of testing and showing how modern agriculture and sustainability can coexist. Over the past three years, the company conducted tests with crop protection products and innovative systems and monitored biodiversity indexes. External consultants, Universities and commercial partners worked alongside them both during the planning and analysing stages.
Giovanni Zippo, BASF technical official for the Rome and Latina provinces, talked about the tests carried out in courgette greenhouses. The results will be made available in 2016.
The projects carried out in the past few years can be grouped into three main categories - safeguarding biodiversity (for example with flowered sections for pollinating insects, planted in cooperation with CREA. The company is also working with LIPU to establish good practices to increase the number of bird species), crop protection products (such as AgCelene® solutions or Smart Protection programmes, which combine traditional treatments with natural solutions) and functional solutions (e.g. mulching films made of ecovio® biodegradable plastic).
Above: lettuce protected by biodegradable ecovio® mulching films. Below: the soil a month and a half after the film decomposed - no residues are left.
OrtoSole also uses an Osmofilm plant produced by a French partner. It is an integrated system that avoids polluting the water used for the washing of tanks.
Alessandro Tiozzo (left) explains how Osmofilm works.
During the visit, two lettuce greenhouses were compared - one implements a series of BASF solutions (biodegradable film and crop protection products), while the other one does not.
The visit to the lettuce greenhouses.
The result is amazing, as can be seen by comparing the development stages of the two lettuces (see photos below).
Above: lettuce without film and where crop protection products were not used. Below: Lettuce cultivated using BASF solutions. They were planted on the same day!
BASF is demonstrating how it is possible to produce more (between 30 and 50% more in the case of lettuce) with less (reducing weeding cost and the number of treatments, for example).