The Project “A.C.Q.U.A. – Aware of Water Quality and Use of Citrus Growing “is promoted by the Citrus District of Sicily and the Department of Civil Engineering and Architecture (Dicar) of the University of Catania, with the unconditional contribution of The Coca-Cola Foundation.
- Promote the sustainable use of water resources in the citrus production chain;
- Spread innovative and efficient irrigation and monitoring techniques
- Improve knowledge and identify strengths and weaknesses on the use of water in the Sicilian citrus fruit supply chain
- Mapping of the citrus fruit production chain to record quality and quantity of water, irrigation methods in use, water consumption and related costs, needs of producers and processors.
- Water quality mapping, mainly in the production phase, for the assessment of the possible use of unconventional water resources, such as fertigation and biostimulants, reduction of chemical products, desalination techniques for brackish water irrigation.
- Development of a WebGIS platform for data collection and consultation.
- High resolution monitoring of water stress indicators of citrus orchards with innovative technologies, through the use of drones equipped with thermal and multispectral cameras.
- Creation of a sustainable irrigation pilot plant to support the good practices of water use and reuse in the citrus industry.
By the project it was possible to collect information from 114 companies directly and/or indirectly associated with the Citrus District of Sicily. The interviews took place mainly in the summer of 2019. The area in which the greatest number of questionnaires were collected was the province of Catania, where more than 40% of the total participants were interviewed, followed by the province of Siracusa with almost 30% of the answers. Obviously orange is the most cultivated species in the investigated farms (61%). A good sample was collected for lemon (34%). Together, mandarin and clementine cover just about 5% of the total. More than 70% of companies produce certified citrus fruits (DOP, IGP, GlobalGAP, GRASP). The most widespread management is organic (practiced by 42% of citrus groves), followed by conventional (approximately 31%), while in the remaining 27% of the farms an integrated (mixed organic and conventional) management is adopted.
Demonstration irrigation field
The demonstration irrigation field carried out in the Palazzelli experimental orchard of CREA-OFA, Council for Agricultural Research and Analysis of Agricultural Economics – Research Center for Olive, Fruit and Citrus crops, has the purpose of evaluating and disseminating the application of different irrigation techniques oriented at water and energy saving, and to assess the influence of irrigation on soil management. The field consists of a citrus grove, divided into 6 plots, with 7-year-old orange trees of Red tarot variety on Citrange rootstock, extended 1.90 hectares and with plants distanced 5 X 4 m.
A “journey” in the areas dedicated to citrus growing in Sicily to tell the critical issues and excellence in the management of a precious asset such as water and illustrate the data collected, in some cases for the first time with an organic survey conducted on about 120 representative companies of the entire citrus supply chain.
- 22/02/2019 – “Presentazione del Progetto A.C.Q.U.A.” – Varie testate giornalistiche
- 01/05/2019 – Droni, Nuove sentinelle contro la siccità – Formiche
- 19/07/2019 – Avvio mappatura in oltre 100 aziende agrumicole siciliane – Varie testate giornalistiche
- 18/09/2019 – Avvio mappatura con i droni per monitoraggio stress idrico degli agrumeti – Varie testate giornalistiche