A. Preparatory actions

A.1 Stakeholders consultation and technical planning

This action is dedicated to preliminary activities with focus on fact findings, review of literature, choice of the demonstration sites, preparation of detailed plans for the different activities foreseen within the project.

B. Implementation actions

B.1 Setting up innovative management procedures for efficient control of pests and diseases in field

Targeted pests are Cydia pomonella and Cydia molesta, and pathogens Venturia inaequalis and Monilinia spp. Monitoring will be performed using standard methodology (traps and visual inspection of plant organs), but also microbiological isolation and molecular detection tools.

For pests control entomopathogenic nematodes (e.g. Steinernema carpocapsae) will be used, and for diseases decomposing microorganisms and biocontrol agents (Aureobasidium, Pantoea, Candida) will be used.

Pests will also be controlled using pheromones and exclusion nets. The purpose of this part is to evaluate practical and economic feasibility of innovative pests and disease control strategies in Italian and Croatian ecological conditions.

These data will contribute to lower use of pesticide, reduce fruit losses (in the field and in postharvest) and possible increase of fruit quality.

B.2 Realization of prototypes of insect exclusion nets for pest control in orchard

Apple and peach crops are affected by some pests responsible for serious economic yield losses, if not controlled effectively. Chemical control based on the intensive use of pesticides has usually been applied against these pests, resulting in negative effects on human and environmental health. Therefore, to reduce the use of pesticides, and consequently the impact on human and environmental health, new approaches of pest control have been introduced, including the use of exclusion nets to prevent pest access to the orchard. The exclusion nets will be applied in apple and peach orchards at petal fall ; they will be removed at the end of the harvest time. Prototypes will be tested in apple and peach orchards.

B.3 Establishing 12 demonstration fields where sustainable methodologies for controlling plant pests and diseases are applied and demonstrated

The prototypes tested in the action B2 (Realization of prototypes of exclusion nets for pest control in orchards) will allow to compare different kinds of nets to prevent the pests from infesting and damaging the crop, and to obtain economically and ecologically sustainable production. Therefore, the most suitable and effective net to arrange exclusion netting of orchards will be chosen on the base of the results obtained in action B2.

B.4 Realization of prototype of hot water system treatment for postharvest disease control

The prototype will represent a new and innovative process for the control of some fungal pathogens producing rots in apple and stone fruit.

The hot water system treatment device proposed to be set up under Action B.4 will be a prototype specifically developed for the project. It is based on a previous equipment previously assessed for peach treatment, but it requires specific modifications in order to adapt it to different contexts (packinghouse lines, fruit species, and country).

An optimal combination between duration of treatment and temperature has to be found. In addition this combination has to be effective against fungal disease and compatible with the times required by the prototype to dump, to lift and to drip the pallet boxes.

The heating of the water can be obtained from refrigerant gas coming from the cooling plant of the stores; indeed, the heat of this gas is usually dispersed in the environmental through the condensers. This could have a positive environmental impact by reducing the use fossil energy and the consequent release of greenhouse gases (GHG).

B.5 Establishing 4 demonstration packinghouses where sustainable methodologies for controlling plant pests and diseases are applied and demonstrated

This action will be performed with the purpose of implementing sustainable and low-chemical postharvest technologies (SPT) such as hot water (HW) treatments and ozonized water into commercial practice. In addition, feasibility studies and economic sustainability will be carried out. Target audiences for this demonstration activity are fruit producers and packinghouse managers, retailers and other professionals from fruit postharvest sector.

B.6 Setting up the best agrifood practices (BAP) of pre-harvest and post-harvest management for sustainable and quality fruit crop production

Integrated pest management (IPM) is a system approach to manage pests, diseases and weeds in agricultural production, based on maintaining pest populations below economic thresholds by knowing their biology and their harmfulness. The aim of this action is to set up the best agrifood practices (BAPs) in order to implement the IPM practices in the field and in post-harvest for a more sustainable agriculture.

This actions refers to validate and to promote the adoption of best available practices (BAT) on sustainable production and storage of apple and peach fruit.

B.7 Training courses on BAPs, including field and packinghouse visits

The exchange of knowledge and experiences acquired during the project activities among the partners, including growers and packinghouse technicians involved in the project, will be provided through courses organized in the second and third year. In particular, three 3-day-training courses will be carried out in the two areas (i.e., NW Italy, NE Italy), and will include field survey in the orchards and visit to the packinghouses.

C. Monitoring of the impact of the project actions

C.1 Monitoring of environmental impact of the project

The SUSAFRUIT project aims at developing, applying and demonstrating an economically viable strategic plan to implement integrated pest management (IPM), by promoting the use of low chemical field and post-harvest fruit production practices in Northern Italy and Croatia.

The monitoring of environmental of the project should include an ex ante environmental monitoring, the continuous measure throughout the activities of the project of the impact on the environmental problem targeted, and an ex post environmental monitoring.

C.2 Monitoring of socio-economic impact of the project

The impact of BAPs for IPM in fruit production, protection and storage promoted by the project will be evaluated also towards socio-economic aspects and in particular respects to:

  • number of education/information events per year and farmer/technicians;
  • number of contacts through the SUSAFRUIT web site, which will include an on-line advisory systems;
  • direct or indirect employment growth in rural areas;
  • community development and viability (number of fruit farms, average income of farmers);
  • economic aspects (economic value of fruit production..);
  • consumer awareness about integrated fruit production (through surveys performed in Action 4.2);
  • consumer perception about integrated fruit production (through survey performed in Action 4.2).

All these factors will be analysed through a direct assessment involving the different stakeholders.

D. Communication and dissemination actions

D.1 Building and updating the project website

Like other communication and dissemination actions (D), the website aims to publicize the project and its results and to support the communication, awareness and training actions so to raise target stakeholders’ awareness on demonstrating an economically viable strategic plan for sustainable fruit farming. In particular, the thematic strategy on the sustainable use of pesticides will be communicated by promoting the use of low chemical field and post-harvest fruit production practices in typical Croatian and Italian agro-ecosystems. The SUSAFRUIT website aims also to support networking action E5 by increasing the effectiveness of research and public support on IPM and to provide information to other local, National and European authorities on sustainable fruit crop protection strategies.

D.2 Production of communication and dissemination materials (brochures, newsletter, press office)

As reported in action D1 Building and updating the project website, all the project communication and dissemination actions D aim to publicize the project and its results and to support the communication, awareness and training actions so to raise target stakeholders’ awareness on demonstrating an economically viable strategic plan for sustainable fruit farming. In particular the thematic strategy on the sustainable use of pesticides will be communicated by promoting the use of low chemical field and post-harvest fruit production practices in typical Croatian and Italian agro-ecosystems. Moreover, the actions D aim to support networking action E5 by increasing the effectiveness of research on alternative strategies to pesticide use in fruit production and to provide information to other local, National and European authorities willing to implement or update National Action Plans.

D.3 Communication actions towards farmers (4 seminars on BAPs)

Seminars and technical visits reserved to growers (AGRA+APOFRUIT) will be held by researchers and technicians on new sustainable strategies to control pests and diseases of apple and peach. In addition growers could attend to technical visits in some orchards involved in the activities of project. During these visits they will see the exlusion nets in the orchards and will be informed on their management.

Technical workshops reserved to packinghouse technicians will be held to inform them on the possibility to use a machinery for heat treatment of fruits (apples and peaches) that allows to reduce post-harvest disease without chemical inputs. The event will provide the demonstration of a heat treatment with machinery.

D.4 Communication actions towards consumers (4 workshops)

Several surveys show that the engagement of consumers to the topics of science could be difficult. When embracing a communication process that involves consumers, it should take into account different factors that influence this communication process.

Consumers could represent a much diversified audience, constituted by household tenants, children, teenagers, elderly people, people with other cultural background, etc. They are not interested in acquiring specific knowledge for the mere sake of it. They need to understand the message and see the real benefits that the research brings for them.

D.5 Participating in dissemination events (conferences, workshop, seminars...) presenting technical communications of project experience

The dissemination events aim to inform stakeholders (growers, packinghouse technicians and researchers) about the topic of project and its main results. Since these events address different clientele, it is expected that they will be given at different locations and in different languages. In addition, the dissemination of scientific knowledge arising from the project will be mainly through articles in peer-reviewed journals and professional magazines, guidebooks and leaflets, oral presentation (power point) and proceedings in international and national conferences, courses.

D.6 Production of technical and scientific publications

Technicians and researchers appreciate reports that are easy to read and understand. Therefore, the project beneficiaries are strongly recommended to produce formally correct documents ready to be distributed. Reports may be produced at different levels: (1) technical and (2) scientific publications.

D.7 Preparing LIFE+ information boards

The coordinating beneficiary and associated beneficiaries will erect and maintain LIFE+ information boards describing the project at the locations where it is implemented and in particular at the 12 demonstration fields (in the Italian regions: Emilia-Romagna and Piedmont, and in Croatia), at the 4 packinghouses (2 in Emilia-Romagna, 1 in Piedmont, 1 in Croatia), at the 6 partners (FAZ, AGRA, UNITO, UNIBO, XEDA and APOFRUIT), in 4 supermarkets (2 in Italy and 2 in Croatia), and at the fruit technician organization (CReSO). All of them will be prepared with the LIFE logo and indications about the Life+ funding support.

D.8 Layman's report

The project will produce the Layman's report in the last quarter of the project implementation. The Layman's report of 10 pages will outline the main results of the project targeting at a non-specialist audience. It will be available in paper and electronic format for Number of pages of Layman’s report.

E. Project management and monitoring of the project progress

E.1 Project Management: operational plan; management system; project meetings; project reports, maintenance plan

The project management action will ensure the correct administration of the entire proposal and secure achievement of project objectives within budget, quality and deadlines. A project manager will be specifically hired for the project by FAZ.

FAZ will coordinate all activities of the projects: coordination of knowledge management on consortium level, harmonisation of pre-existing know-how (background) and installation of knowledge exchange mechanisms.

E.2 Monitoring of project progress: monitoring protocol; 2 reviews

Monitoring, as a management tool for tracking progress of project, will be a continuous process throughout project implementation, gathering data about performance indicators.

The coordinator will deliver a monitoring protocol under the form of a check list by using the indicators of progress defined by each action, the deliverables and the milestones as defined in form C, as well as the output indicators recommended by the LIFE+ programme. This check list will also indicate the code of associated action, the source of verification, the deadline, the name of the beneficiary responsible for implementation, as well as comments if required.

E.3 External Audit

FAZ, as coordinating beneficiary, will nominate the independent auditor that will verify the final statement of expenditure and income provided to the Commission in the final project report in respect with the LIFE+ Common Provisions rules.

The auditor will verify compliance with national legislation and accounting rules, and certify that all costs incurred comply with this grant agreement. The auditor will also check the sources of the project financing, and in particular that co-financing does not stem from other Community financial instruments. The work to be performed will be in accordance with, and in the format of, the Guidelines provided by the Commission.

E.4 After-LIFE Communication Plan

An after-Life communication plan will be presented and discussed at the final meeting. The after LIFE+ Communication plan will be published in the project website. This action aims to obtain a clear picture on how we will plan to continue disseminating and communicating on the project after its end so to ensure the sustainability of its results and their possible multiplication in other communities. The after-LIFE communication plan will be formulated gradually during the whole duration of the project by identifying on time appropriate types and purpose of communication dedicated to potential target audience for continuation and valorisation of the project results.

E.5 Networking activities: contact list, repertory page; study tour at project

Networking activities aim to exchange knowledge and best practices among similar project platforms to ensure an efficient transfer of know-how and experience in order to foster its replication in similar context. This action finally aims to identify multipliers and to provide information to local, National and European authorities that will assist in introducing new IPM strategies for fruit crop production and storage in their territory.