Valagro and the prestigious Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa, one of the top ten "World's Best Small Universities 2017" in the official ranking, recently inaugurated the Joint Lab. Thanks to the collaboration between Valagro's Global Research and Development team and Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies' PlantLab, the joint laboratory will focus on developing biostimulants that can increase cropsresistance to drought and increase the ability of plants to absorb nutrients naturally present in the soil.
The creation of Valagro @PlantLab is part of the decade-long partnership between Valagro and the Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies for research in the field of physiology and plant genomics. Valagro will be investing a total of 1 million euros over the next three years with the aim of combining Valagro's research and development expertise with the scientific research of the Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies' Institute of Life Sciences, in order to experiment with innovative approaches to developing biostimulants that can trigger physiological processes in plants and improve their performance even when resources are limited.
Valagro's commitment to the joint laboratory is part of a plan to invest 6 million euros over three years, aimed at further strengthening the Group's growth in the global biostimulants and specialty plant nutrition market.
Today, the most important crops for world nutrition are grains (rice and corn first and foremost), as well as some other crops such as soy. Water is a fundamental resource for all these crops and water use efficiency is a key element in a global scenario where water availability is not always guaranteed in all situations and places. This is why one of the key objectives of the Joint Lab will be to develop biostimulants that enable farmers to improve the quantity and quality of the harvest, optimising water consumption, and to preserve production even when there is a shortage (even occasional) of water.
The ultimate aim is to considerably reduce irrigation water consumption while improving the quantity and quality of the yield.
Another key factor in ensuring successful crops is the availability of nutrients in the soil: in this case, using fertilizers seems to be the simplest solution, but it has important environmental impact, due in particular to leaching into groundwater or rivers, without considering the cost of energy for their production and distribution. On this front, the Joint Lab effort will be aimed at developing biostimulants that can increase the capacity of plants to absorb the nutrients naturally present in the soil, thus reducing the production costs for farmers as well as the environmental impact of agricultural practices.
The potential objective is to ensure the proper absorption of nutrients by using fertilizers in a more precisely and more intelligently way.
"We are proud of this additional step forward in the decade-long collaboration that unites Valagro and the Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa," declared Alberto Piaggesi, Global Research & Development Director at Valagro. "Thanks to the Joint Lab, we will develop new approaches to managing water and nutrients to offer innovative and effective solutions for plant nutrition and care, meeting the needs of farmers for higher yields while ensuring better quality, greater efficiency and lower environmental impact."
The new lab will have the capacity to analyse over 600 DNA samples in one hour, which means a potential of nearly 4000 analyses per day, in addition to being equipped with 150 square meters of air-conditioned cells with LED lights capable of reproducing any climatic condition.
"The technical features of the new joint laboratory, combined with a staff of over 20 researchers, make Valagro @PlantLab a unique example of the integration of scientific research and the world of industry," said Prof. Pierdomenico Perata, Dean of the Sant'Anna School and scientific director of the partnership with Valagro. "The Joint Lab will encourage spontaneous, cross-sector interaction between the two teams of researchers, creating a true "ecosystem" of innovation where technology and "know-how" are transferred between the university laboratory and the company."
The establishment of the Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies' joint lab Valagro @PlantLab confirms Valagro's will to maintain its leadership in the field of biostimulants, an aim made possible thanks to the intense research and development, in which the Group invests about 4% of its total revenue every year. This allows the company to offer innovative and increasingly effective solutions on the market, because it can give a practical response to the needs of modern agriculture, which has to combine productivity and efficiency, while fully respecting human and environmental health.