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Significantly increasing the yields of organic processing tomato crops while maintaining a constant Brix degree thanks to fertilizers based on solid digestates from biogas production plants: this is the challenge to the circular economy that has been taken up by the Unimore university (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia), with ongoing experimentation of two innovative organic and organo-mineral fertilizers on organic crop farms in the North of Italy.
According to Domenico Ronga, a Unimore researcher, "the first year of experiments with our new fertilizers gave encouraging results, and we are waiting for a patent. Two aspects stand out as being particularly significant: per hectare yields, on the one hand, have increased by 30 to 40% compared to average productivity, to the point of reaching approximately 120-130 tonnes/ha; and furthermore, we have not recorded any drop in the sugar contents of the fruit, nor have we observed any deterioration of quality parameters."
Ronga also stated that "our new bio-fertilizers have succeeded in synchronizing the mineralization of nutrients with the plant's requirements, particularly for nitrogen. A third effect of the substance, added the researcher, is an improvement in the water retention of the soil, which is a major factor in improving the efficiency of water utilization."
Unimore research continued throughout the 2018 season in order to evaluate the response of the two products to the various spatial and climatic conditions. "In order to obtain concrete results, concluded the scientist, it is necessary to carry out trials for at least one more season. The fertilizers were put into the soil 7 to 10 days before transplanting, in compliance with a fertilization plan that is designed to take account of dedicated surfaces and harvest requirements."