Grapevine is a relevant crop in the EU, with 3.2 million hectares in 2015, representing around 45 % of the world’s total area under vines. Italy is the third vine grower in the EU, following France and Spain. The grapevine sector is progressively losing economic sustainability because of several reasons. To help growers facing this economic crisis it would be necessary to provide them additional revenue.
There is an increasing interest in the Payment of Ecosystem Services (PESs), i.e., the benefits humans gain from the environment and from properly-functioning ecosystems. Viticulture provides multiple ecosystem services to the whole community. For instance, sustainable vineyard management makes it possible a relevant reduction in the greenhouse gasses emission, so contributing to fight the global warming; unfortunately, the Carbon Credits (CCs) saved by farmers through proper vineyard management are not currently remunerated. There is an increasing voluntary (or over-the-counter) market the CCs, in which CCs can be sold to industries and individuals willing to voluntarily compensate for their emissions or provide an additional contribution to mitigating climate change. The challenge for accessing this new, interesting and growing market, which should complement the economic income of the farmers, is to build up a system for calculating certified Verified Emission Reduction (VER) and make them available to buyers trough specialised exchanging platforms.
The solution to the problem will be addressed with a mixture of technological, social and entrepreneurial innovations!
A system for the calculation and tracing of the CCs saved during the sustainable vineyard management by the farmers, who belong to the farmers’ association 7Colli, will be developed by implementing new functionalities into the DSS (Decision Support System) vite.net of Horta. This will involve the CO2 equivalents spent for agricultural operations (carbon footprint), those saved through reducing soil erosion and losses, and those stored in soil, cover crops and vine plants (carbon sequestration). A parametric insurance mechanism will also be introduced for the failing of sustainable vineyard management through the DSS (specifically for the control of pests and diseases). A system will be then developed for calculating VER (Verified Emission Reduction; 1 VER being equivalent to 1 ton of CO2equivalent emissions) according to ISO14064 standard, for certify and selling them on the free market through specialised platforms (e.g., eCO2care), and for sharing the revenue among farmers.
Technological: The implementation of new functionalities into the DSS requires technological adaptation, based on advanced analytics, IoT and blockchain technology to certify information for all the actors in the system.
Social: The DSS is a mean of knowledge transfer to farmers, so that they can be aware of agricultural best practices and innovations.
Organisational/Entrepreneurial: The introduction of new technologies can bring a change in the farmers, leading to a more rationale and optimised management of their vineyards. The calculation of CCs and their economic valorisation with a cluster approach permits the involvement of small farmers that individually have difficulty to participate to this type of initiative.
Economic: The possibility to calculate CCs saved during the field phase and their selling on the free market represent a new income for farmers. The use of DSS also makes it possible a reduction of costs for the management of viticultural operations (e.g., reduction of costs for plant protection interventions).
Social: Farmers will benefit from the use of the DSS, which will give them indications on the best practices to manage their fields. The involvement of farmers through a cluster approach will increase their awareness on climate change issues and their potential contribution.
Environmental: The possibility to calculate the CO2 credits saved in the field stage can stimulate farmers to adopt sustainable techniques in their field management. It can also be used as a way to show and disseminate how agriculture can contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases emission.