30 July 2020

Cycle of Conferences about Soil, Environment and Agriculture in Montalcino

In winter 2019/2020 Vitenova together with the Committee Montalcino Bio and the support of the “Scuola Permanente dell’Abitare” and the “Ordine dei Dottori Agronomi e Forestali della Provincia di Siena” organized a cycle of conferences with the theme Soil, Environment and Agriculture in Montalcino.

We have tried to focus the topics of the conferences on fundamental arguments in agriculture, starting from the most important basis: the soil and the role of its fertility to better understand and evaluate the life of the soil and its components. In addition to Stefano Zaninotti, Anna Benedetti (director of CREA) and Alessio Neri, agronomist technician of Ornellaia-Masseto were the speakers. Each conference ended in a unique and interesting way: a brief presentation of a typical product of the territory compared with other estates (including non-Tuscan ones), to focus on agricultural products other than wine. In this occasion we talked about crocus for saffron and invited Walter Zamuner, farmer and founder of the company Zafferano di San Quirino (PN).

The second part has been organized with the theme “Recognize our friends: insects and not only, to deepen the knowledge about their role in the vineyards and about their interaction with the human being and the crops.” It was a very interesting conference in which we invited multiple speakers. It started with an important scientific introduction of the entomologist prof. Andrea Lucchi, Stefano Zaninotti and Costanza Uboni from the team Vitenova. Afterwards Matteo Gentili, agronomist of the Corte Pavone – Loacker Wine Estate, presented his case study and at the end we finished with the focus on agricultural products about olive growing. In fact, prof. Angelo Canale spoke about an actual thread for olive growing: the olive fly.

Speaking about agriculture and the vine management, we couldn’t miss one important argument for the third conference: “Focus on the plant strategies to approach living vegetative organisms and define a natural balance“. The team of Vitenova was represented by the participation of Stefano Amadeo and Cristiano Francescato who spoke about spontaneous plants, grassing and the role of green manure. This time the scientific aspect was covered by Dr. Duilio Porro, Fondazione Edmund Mach who presented his experiences and news about the rootstocks of the vine: the “M” series.

During this conference many appreciated the case histories of Francesco Monari, agronomist of Argiano and of Angelo Fongoli owner of the Fongoli winery. The third conference was then concluded by Salvatore Ceccarelli, Genetic improvement consultant who spoke about evolutionary populations of grains, climate change and health.

The fourth conference took part in the middle of February and its topic is more than current: “Understanding the climate and the biological defense to better know the vineyard defense strategies with a look on the climate change.” The conference introduction was by Filippo Giorgi ICPT (International Center for Theoretical Physics) and his presentation about “Climate is changing: Scientific evidence, risks and mitigation opportunities”. The impacts of climate change on agriculture were presented by Paolo Storchi and Stefano Amadeo. After their presentation, Gabriele di Gaspero of the Institute of Applied Genomics (UD) spoke about the use of resistant varieties and Giacomo Nunin, agronomist of Vitenova, presented his Thesis: “Influence of various sulfur-based formulations on phytophages of the vine and their natural enemies”.

With this conference, an in-depth analysis on the different types of cultivation, on the varietal choices and on the phytosanitary defenses that can be performed in the vineyard to keep it healthy was offered. To end the conference, we invited Mariagrazia De Belli who presented us her project “Enobee” – Bees in the vineyards.  This time we had our focus on beekeeping in the vineyards, because it can be both a bio-monitoring system and a way to rebalance the environment of the vineyards and the surroundings. Her presentation introduced a “round table” to speak, compare and discuss different realities of beekeepers: Giuliano Dragoni, Agronomist of Col d’Orcia and Alessandro Riccò, Agronomist of Podere Le Ripi spoke about their experiences and Stefano Amadeo led the round table with the moderation.

A fifth conference was also scheduled in March but was postponed due to the pandemic. Nevertheless, at the beginning of the summer we managed to organize it online on the theme “Let’s talk about wine … a look into the cellar”, because we wanted to deepen the aspects of winemaking for the production of organic wines by evaluating the latest studies about the production of quality wine in compliance to sustainability – both including the environmental, economic and social aspects. A big part of the conference was the presentation of Dr.  Giacomo Buscioni and Dr. Silvia Magani, both part of the FoodMicroTeam. in Florence. They spoke about spontaneous or inoculated fermentation or making sulfite free wines, as well as about the problem of quercetin in Sangiovese wines. Afterwards Nicolo del Negro presented his thesis about the fungal ecology of the vineyard: is Brettanomyces bruxellensis present?

Of course, also this conference ended with two case histories with different visions, but the same aim: the production of high quality wine respecting the environment that is surrounding us: Alberto Tanzini of the winery Roccapesta in Scansano and Marino Colleoni for Santa Maria in Montalcino.

At the end we can say that this cycle of conferences has been very intense and interesting. We want to thank all speakers about the high quality of their presentation, and of course to the Committee of Montalcino Bio for their support in the organization.

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