GoNEXUS Annual General Assembly, an international opportunity to promote resource sustainability and climate resilience

Fecha: 12/06/2024

This year, CEIGRAM was honoured to host the GoNEXUS Annual General Assembly at the School of Agricultural, Food and Biosystems Engineering (ETSIAAB-UPM). During two days (June 6-7, 2024), the GoNEXUS team shared and discussed their findings and coordinated the work that need to be done in the next 12 months, which constitute the final year of the Project.

The GoNEXUS Project, funded by the European Union Horizon 2020 Programme, aims at achieving water, energy and food security, and the conservation of ecosystems, to maximise our planet’s sustainable development and wellbeing. The project assesses the water-energy-food-ecosystem (WEFE) nexus through 8 international case studies, 6 examine river basins in Europe and Africa, while the other 2 look into the global and continental (EU) drivers related to the nexus.

Nexus evidence for each case study, which comes from models and dialogues, was discussed during the meeting. The next 12 months of the project will focus on prioritizing and evaluating WEFE nexus solutions, taking into account not only their expected impacts but also the barriers to their implementation. In this way, GoNEXUS facilitates moving from the theory of the WEFE nexus to the implementation of governance mechanisms that help achieve resource sustainability and climate resilience.

CEIGRAM in the GuMNet Network: Environmental Monitoring in the Guadarrama Mountain Range

Fecha: 04/06/2024

The GuMNet (Guadarrama Monitoring Network) has been established as a laboratory for environmental monitoring in the Sierra de Guadarrama. This network of stations has been installed with the objective of supporting research and dissemination of data and scientific knowledge related to the Sierra de Guadarrama.

Through a wide network of atmospheric and subsoil monitoring stations located in different parts of the Sierra de Guadarrama, this scientific network aims to contribute to the research, education and management of a mountain environment that provides an enormous amount of ecosystem and cultural services to the populations of Madrid and Segovia, provinces adjacent to this National Park. The orography of the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park is complex and the high density of installed stations allows the validation and improvement of high resolution meteorological models.

This Tuesday, Ana M. Tarquis participated in an educational field trip to El Escorial by a group of students from the Master’s Degree in Meteorology and Geophysics at the Complutense University of Madrid, who visited the EG010-Herrería Station, located in the Herrería Forest, which is also an area comprised in the Natura 2000 Network and a Site of Common Interest as well as a Special Protection Area for Birds, so ensuring proper monitoring and management of this site is essential for the conservation of natural assets.

In her presentation, Ana M. Tarquis highlighted the work of CEIGRAM regarding its participation in this scientific network, inviting students to learn about and collaborate in the tasks that CEIGRAM performs in the monitoring and analysis of agrometeorological and climatic data collected at the stations together with satellite data.

Climate change has a great impact on high mountain ecosystems such as the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park. The decrease in precipitation, the irregularity in the frequency of rainfall or the increase in temperature are phenomena that are already affecting the flora and fauna of the Park, and that must be taken into consideration for its correct management.

In short, the GuMNet network is creating a hydrometeorological database in an environment as valuable as the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park, which can be a very useful tool for researchers and visitors to the mountains, enabling better management of natural resources through a detailed evaluation of current environmental conditions and forecasting future ones.

Review of the 19th Meeting of RUENA (Network for Efficient Nitrogen Use in Agriculture)

Fecha: 28/05/2024

R. Isla1, N. Mateo1, J.L. Gabriel2
– 1. Centro de Investigación y Tecnología Agroalimentaria de Aragón (CITA)
– 2. Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria (INIA-CSIC)

Participants of the XIX Meeting of the RUENA Network
Participants of the XIX Meeting of the RUENA Network

The Network for Efficient Nitrogen Use in Agriculture (RUENA) held its 19th Annual Meeting at the facilities of the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Zaragoza (CIHEAM) on May 25 and 26, 2024 with the support of the Interprofessional Association for Agricultural Development (AIDA-ITEA) and the coordination of the Center for Agri-Food Research and Technology of Aragon (CITA). This meeting, focused on this occasion on the “Challenges and advances in improving the efficiency of nitrogen use from manure and organic sources”, was again a national meeting point between fertilizer manufacturers, researchers, public administrations, farmers and other interested groups, in which the latest advances in the sector of nitrogen as a plant nutrient were exchanged.

The conference was inaugurated by the director of the CIHEAM of Zaragoza, Raúl Compés, by the Coordinator of the Organizing Committee, Ramón Isla, and by the coordinator of the Network, José L. Gabriel. Dr. Alberto Sanz-Cobeña, researcher at CEIGRAM-UPM and coordinator of the REMEDIA Network, gave a keynote speech entitled “Ammonia emissions in fertilized agricultural soils: measurement and estimation methods and volatilization reduction strategies”. This presentation was followed by a block of thematic talks delving further into the importance of the circular economy as a potential tool to further increase the sustainability of the sector. Dr. Dolores Quílez (CITA) presented her work entitled “Ammonia emissions in organic fertilization, examples of techniques for their reduction”, followed by Dr. Ángela Bosch (University of Lleida) with her work entitled “Effects of organic application on soil quality” and Dr. Raúl Moral (University Miguel Hernández) with his work entitled “Effects of organic application on soil quality”. Raúl Moral (University Miguel Hernández) with his work “Recirculation of N from waste sources in agriculture and development of new biofertilizers”, and Dr. Pilar Bernal (CEBAS-CSIC) closed the block with her work “Agronomic use of nitrogen from compost and digested materials”.

Alberto Sanz-Cobeña (CEIGRAM) during his lecture at the XIX Meeting of the RUENA Network
Alberto Sanz-Cobeña (CEIGRAM) during his lecture at the XIX Meeting of the RUENA Network

In the afternoon, it was the turn of the final phase of the I RUENA Young Researchers Award. On this occasion, the 7 finalist papers were presented and the jury, composed of a representative of each of the 8 sponsoring companies, decided to award the prize (worth 1000 €) to Aitziber Calleja, a PhD student at the Public University of Navarra, supervised by Idoia Ariz, whose work was entitled “New nitrogen fertilization practices for the production of healthy leafy vegetables”. In any case, the voting was very close, demonstrating the high quality (and variety) of all the papers presented.

The 26th was dedicated to the usual field visit, on this occasion visiting the facilities of the Slurry Management Center and one of the farms participating in the Life ClimFarm project (both in Ejea de los Caballeros), where we were updated on the numerous activities and trials that are carried out there on the sustainable management of slurry produced in the region, covering both direct emissions on farm, the management of slurry in ponds to reduce volatilization losses and the direct application of slurry to crops through adapted fertigation systems. A good summary of this visit can be found in the report broadcasted by Aragón TV in its program Tempero, available in this link.

Noemí Mateo (CITA) during her presentation of the Life ClimFarm Project.
Noemí Mateo (CITA) during her presentation of the Life ClimFarm Project.

For more information on this and other past and future RUENA conferences, please visit the RUENA web page (http://www.ruena.org/). As a foretaste, the 20th Meeting is scheduled to take place in the spring of 2025 in Valladolid, organized by the researchers of ITACyL, to whom we are very grateful for accepting the challenge and welcoming us with open arms in their facilities.

A mild spring is key for rainfed cereal yields

Fecha: 13/05/2024

Wheat cultivation in reinfed agriculture

April and May are key months for rainfed agriculture, which is heavily dependent on spring temperatures and rainfall. These months are particularly important because of the stage of development of winter cereals. The 2022 and 2023 cereal seasons were particularly poor due to drought and constant heat waves. However, this year we have had a wet autumn and an advancing spring with mild temperatures and some heavy rains, which forecast a good wheat and barley crop. However, these same heavy autumn and winter rains have resulted for the wheat and barley crops in Segovia in very shallow roots, without deepening, and therefore they will need constant rainfall during the following months.

This situation highlights the strong implications of climate change for rainfed agriculture, affecting the water availability for crops from spring precipitation, mainly due to the variability in the seasonality of rainfall that has been observed.

For these reasons, in Spanish there is a saying that goes “April and May, the keys to the whole year” makes sense, since, if these months were drier or colder than usual, they could greatly damage this season’s cereal crops, which so far seem to be developing in good conditions. Late frosts could especially hurt barley, as it is somewhat ahead of wheat, while drought may influence yields of both crops. On the other hand, excessive moisture has negatively affected some farms with a higher presence of rust and fungus.

Projects such as AGUAGRADA, located in the basin of the Arroyo la Balisa in Segovia, study present and future agricultural water demand under different climate change scenarios. This project is of crucial importance to understand and be able to apply the various adaptations needed to face the consequences of the climate crisis. Interannual variability of rainfall, late frosts, as well as early or long-lasting heat waves are challenges to which Spanish rainfed agriculture will have to adapt.

Historically, Castilla y León was considered the granary of Spain, and although total production today is not what it once was, in the province of Segovia the cultivation of winter cereals has grown by 8.6% with respect to the previous season, with wheat and barley remaining the main crops in the study area. This growing trend justifies and highlights the importance of the AGUAGRADA team’s research, which will generate proposals in collaboration with local actors for the adaptation of rainfed agriculture to the challenges arising from climate change.

AGUAGRADA has the support of the Fundación Biodiversidad of the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, through the Call for grants for the implementation of projects that contribute to the implementation of the National Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change (2021-2030).

IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON AGRICULTURE. HOW CAN WE ADAPT?

Fecha: 30/04/2024

The environmental crisis and climate change are among the greatest threats to agriculture today. This implies risks for food security and for the economy, as current conditions and future forecasts point to a necessary transformation of production methods and consumption patterns. Adaptation to climate change has a dual function: on the one hand, to reduce emissions and pollution from agriculture and livestock farming, since these activities are major contributors to the emission of greenhouse gases and other forms of pollution. On the other hand, adaptations will aim to increase the resilience of crops, so that they will be able to withstand the disruptions caused by climate change.

The program Cazador de Cerebros on RTVE 2, presented by Pere Estupinyà, has broadcasted a program on how climate change influences weather conditions and the tourism and agricultural sectors. Margarita Ruiz Ramos was interviewed in the Experimentation Fields of the ETSIAAB-UPM to find out how it affects crops.

Margarita Ruiz, interviewed by Pere Estupinyà in Cazador de Cerebros. RTVE.

Margarita Ruiz points out that, in addition to the progressive increase in temperatures, crops are exposed to the vulnerability caused by the unpredictability of weather patterns, with increasingly common but also more extreme phenomena, making crop planning more difficult, altering their development and generating large material and economic losses. Droughts, torrential rains, heat waves or hail and hailstone are affecting the natural crop calendar, and some farmers are already anticipating this by bringing forward the seasons for some annual crops.

For the researcher, farmers will have to adapt in different ways: using more resistant varieties, using water rationally, where it will produce the most benefit, and even with more flexible and tactical positions, as well as with knowledge and financial capacity to manage and react to specific events that may affect their crop.

You can see the full program at the following link: https://www.rtve.es/play/videos/el-cazador-de-cerebros/esta-loco-tiempo/16080603/. The intervention of Margarita Ruiz Ramos appears from minute 23:05.

The VID-EXPERT Operational Group shares updates and new developments

Fecha: 19/04/2024

  • VID-EXPERT aims to facilitate the interoperability and diagnosis of the carbon footprint in a smart way between farmers and wineries to contribute to climate change mitigation in the wine sector.
  • The VID-EXPERT project is framed within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) directly and indirectly fulfilling goals 17, 15, 13, 12, 12, 9, 8 and 5.

VID-EXPERT is a system that aims to facilitate the interoperability, diagnosis and management of the carbon footprint for winegrowers and wineries, to contribute to climate change mitigation in the wine sector, continues to advance after more than a year of work and data collection to nurture this tool.

This tool, when operational, will not only determine the calculation of the carbon footprint in the vineyard and in the production of wine in the winery, but will also provide each user with personalized recommendations for decision-making related to climate change mitigation in the sector. In short, VID-EXPERT aims to be the software tool that will mark a turning point in the fight against climate change in wineries and vineyards.

For its development, the VID-EXPERT Operational Group has developed exhaustive surveys integrating the agricultural part (vineyards) with the production part (wineries), through which it intends to obtain sufficient information to be able to feed and test the tool.

At the same time, work has been done on the development of the data model from which this intelligent system will be developed. This model is based on the methodology for calculating the carbon footprint, taking into account the sources of greenhouse gas emissions in winemaking activities.

Once the data collection phase has been completed through surveys distributed throughout the Spanish wine-growing territory and its subsequent processing and analysis, the Vid-Expert software is designed, which will be a novel and valuable contribution to the wine sector on a global scale. This digital tool goes beyond the mere calculation of the carbon footprint, as it will perform an intelligent analysis of the data with artificial intelligence techniques, and will provide a personalized diagnosis of the emission sources and mitigation recommendations based on their relationship between cost and efficiency, taking into account their compatibility with the culture of the organization and with the type and image of the wine produced. 

It is important to note that the wine industry is increasingly aware of the effects of climate change, and is striving to find ways to adapt or implement mitigation measures. For effective mitigation management, companies often require costly external services. As a result, this project will make it possible for vineyard and winery managers to make decisions more independently and cost-effectively. 

Additionally, the VID-EXPERT project analyzes the characteristics and status of the current sustainability certification in the wine sector (SWfCP), within which the carbon footprint is evaluated, and aims to make technological proposals that can increase the value of certification and promote a more widespread use of this certificate. In this sense, the FEV, as promoter of the Sustainable Wineries for Climate Protection (SWfCP) certificate, will develop improvement plans that wineries can implement to be more sustainable. Thus, the digital tool VID-EXPERT will allow wineries to calculate their global carbon footprint and its distribution among the different practices in the vineyard to be able to act where it is most necessary and effective to reduce the carbon footprint accurately, and from there manage its reduction in an efficient and personalized way, facilitating future certification or its renewal if they already have it.

Vid-Expert is a project funded by the EU through the 2022 call for grants for innovation projects of general interest by operational groups of the European Association for Innovation in Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability (AEI-Agri), under the National Rural Development Program 2014- 2020 of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

The operational group VID-EXPERT is formed by: Asociación Española De Normalización (UNE), Federación Española el Vino (FEV), Intergia Energía Sostenible (INTERGIA), Sistemas Avanzados de Tecnología, S.A. (SATEC), Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (CEIGRAM-UPM), Instituto De Investigación Y Tecnología Agroalimentarias (IRTA) and Universidad De Zaragoza (UNIZAR).

For more information, please visit VID-EXPERT website https://www.une.org/cooperacion/vid-expert

Logos de las empresas participantes en el Grupo Operativo, mencionadas en el cuerpo del texto.

The ACT4CAP27 project is launched: Designing More Sustainable European Agricultural Policies.

Fecha: 17/04/2024

ACT4CAP27 Horizon EU project: Advancing Capacity and analytical Tools for supporting Common Agricultural Policies post 2027

Kick-off meeting participants in The Hague, Netherlands

In a joint effort to promote more sustainable agricultural policies, a new Horizon Europe-funded project called ACT4CAP27 has had its first kick-off meeting in The Hague, the Netherlands. The project will provide innovative tools to quantitatively assess the impact of climate, agricultural and forestry policies, in order to guide decision-making towards a more sustainable future from 2027 onwards.

The project will have a total duration of 5 years (from March 1, 2024 to February 28, 2029) and brings together the collaboration of 13 institutions and research centres from eight EU countries, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

María Blanco, CEIGRAM researcher and Professor at ETSIAAB in the Department of Agricultural Economics, Statistics and Business Management is leading the UPM-CEIGRAM team, which will have to play an important role in the following tasks:

  • Quantitative analysis of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in the medium and long-term, particularly addressing the ongoing crises and disruptions in Europe and globally.
  • Clarification of value chains in food systems through the perspective of complex networks, with the aim of being able to provide greater detail on the stages between primary production and final consumption.
  • Capacity building, through increased transparency and consistency in the use of models to support future evidence-based policies, improved documentation of analytical approaches and promotion of activities to provide training in model-based research.

The project not only proposes modelling and analytical tools but will also develop an interactive roadmap aimed at guiding the European Union and national and regional policy makers towards more sustainable policies. This initiative aligns recognizes the central role of the Common Agricultural Policy in the sustainable transformation of European agri-food systems.

With a holistic approach addressing economic, social, environmental and climate sustainability of food systems, the ACT4CAP27 project seeks to assess the short- and long-term impacts of regulatory policies on European agricultural systems. The results of this evidence-based assessment will be crucial for designing post-2027 policies to foster a more sustainable and resilient agriculture in the face of future challenges.

This project represents a fundamental step towards a more sustainable agriculture in Europe. We invite you to follow its progress closely. CEIGRAM will keep you informed of the progress and new tools developed in this project.

Project Logo

Strategies for the adaptation of the agricultural sector to climate change: reflections from the AGUAGRADA project workshop.

Fecha: 15/03/2024

On March 12, 2024, at the Escuela de Capacitación y Experiencias Agrarias de Segovia, the AGUAGRADA project has organized a participatory workshop to discuss and select strategies for the adaptation of the agricultural sector to climate change, especially those that may have an impact on the demand for agricultural water in the Balisa Creek basin.

AGUAGRADA team members and workshop assistants

The workshop was attended by various key actors in the agricultural and water sector in Segovia, including agricultural associations, companies, environmental organizations, government representatives, as well as experts and technicians. The workshop was aimed at finding out which climate change adaptation strategies in agriculture are being implemented in the area, which ones are planned for the future, and what incentives or obstacles facilitate or impede the implementation of these adaptation measures.

Workshop assistants participating in the group discussion

The workshop started with the presentation of the AGUAGRADA project together with some previous studies in the region, and the starting data for the modeling of the Balisa Creek basin. This was followed by the identification of the type of farms present in the studied basin and the presentation of the different climate scenarios, according to current projections. Finally, together with those attending the event, possible adaptation strategies to climate change were identified and evaluated.

Several local media have covered this workshop, such as Castilla León Televisión and El Día de Segovia, with an interview to Maite Jiménez, PhD in Agricultural Sciences and Natural Environment and AGUAGRADA researcher, who described the main axes of the project.

Maite Jimenez during her interview in Castilla León Televisión

The AGUAGRADA project is supported by the Biodiversity Foundation of the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, through the Call for grants to carry out projects that contribute to implementing the National Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change (2021-2030) and is being executed by researchers from the Center for Studies and Research for the Management of Agricultural and Environmental Risks (CEIGRAM) of the Polytechnic University of Madrid.

Carne Cruda broadcasts a program on the farmers’ protests, with the participation of José María Sumpsi.

Fecha: 26/02/2024

José María Sumpsi, CEIGRAM researcher and Professor at the UPM, participated in the broadcast of Carne Cruda in a program with the title “The field is fed up: beyond the noise”, which have addressed issues such as the claims of Spanish and European farmers, as well as the problems they face and the solutions from which they could benefit. The new CAP (2023-2027) was also discussed.

Carne Cruda program poster: "the field is fed up", with José María Sumpsi.
Carne Cruda program: “the field is fed up”, with José María Sumpsi.

Farmers and livestock farmers should consider environmental policies aimed towards sustainable agricultural systems, such as the European Green Deal and Farm to Table, as a long-term advocacy for their sustainability. On the other hand, regulatory frameworks that have also been criticized in these protests, such as the 2030 Agenda, should not be seen as a barrier to agricultural activity, and weakening the environmental measures that are being taken based on scientific evidence, is not the solution.

The demands of the farmers and ranchers who are protesting these weeks throughout Spain are heterogeneous, just as there is great diversity in the Spanish countryside. The main demands include a CAP better adapted to the needs of small and medium-sized farmers, as well as the implementation of a series of measures to combat the lack of replacement and the loss of young people.  Regarding food imports, the European Union is asked to negotiate with the World Trade Organization to establish mirror clauses, i.e., that the requirements for imports from third countries be equal to local ones, although this will be difficult to implement.

The European Union devotes one third of its budget to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which is the EU’s largest budget item. CAP aid is divided into a first pillar providing direct aid, which in this new CAP 2023-2027 is granted not only per hectare, but also per volume of production, crop and yield. However, the program has defended the idea that direct aid should have a strict maximum limit, and that it should be directed towards small and medium-sized farmers, instead of large farms which, according to data from the National Agricultural Accounting Network, are profitable by their own condition. It is the small and medium-sized farmers, who favor crop diversity to a greater extent, who should receive a greater amount of this direct aid, in order to compensate for the additional cost of producing in Europe with the environmental and labor requirements that have to be met here, and to mitigate competition with third countries which, although they produce at lower costs, are not subsidized in most cases. The second pillar of the CAP is indirect aid, related to rural development, youth and gender, agricultural modernization, improvements in the food chain or environmental impact measures, accounting for only 25% of the total budget, although it can create the social fabric that makes the countryside economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.

It is true that the latest CAP reform has reinforced sustainability criteria, but unlike the Green Pact, it is not environmental criteria that have determined it, but market criteria. In any case, in response to the protests in Europe, the EU has begun to make the CAP more flexible and to delay the implementation of some of its enhanced cross-compliance measures (standards and good agricultural and environmental practices).

Spain’s Food Chain Law is groundbreaking and one of the most modern in Europe; however, there is a need to provide the Price Observatory with a larger budget and more staff to ensure compliance with the Food Chain Law by evaluating each product and looking for where in the chain disruptions are occurring.

In conclusion, the Carne Cruda program has highlighted the complexity and diversity of the challenges facing the Spanish and European agricultural sector. The importance of environmental and regulatory policies that promote long-term sustainability has been underlined, as well as the need for a CAP more adapted to the realities of small and medium-sized farmers, proposing a more equitable distribution of direct CAP aid and a greater allocation of indirect aid. The need for training and the recovery of agricultural extension to ensure greater support and awareness of those working in the primary sector has also been pointed out. Despite progress, it is clear that there are still challenges to overcome, and it is crucial that both the European Union and national governments are committed to addressing these issues effectively, ensuring the economic, social and environmental sustainability of the agricultural sector.

To listen to the full program (in Spanish), click on the following link

Gabriel Arbonès’s colloquium in the Institute for Geography of the Friedrich-Alexander Universität.

Fecha: 09/02/2024

Gabriel Arbonès, pre-doctoral researcher at the Botín Foundation’s Water Observatory (CEIGRAM-UPM and UCM), has presented at the Friedrich-Alexander Universität the results of his study on agricultural land use changes in Spain: markets, climate and water resources, with a case study in southern Catalonia.

In order to support sustainable transitions, the study aims to understand land use changes in Spain, specifically with regard to irrigated crops, to promote sustainable transitions. It examines variables like climate variations, water scarcity, irrigation technology, international trade, and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) by analysing data from government public databases from 2004 to 2022.

The results reveal trends in agricultural intensification with highly productive fields being intensified through additional irrigation and less productive croplands being abandoned. Because of increased groundwater exploitation, irrigated woody crops—especially olives, vines, and almonds—have grown significantly in the water-scarce southern region. Climate change affects agriculture in Catalonia’s Baix Camp region, and possible adaptation and mitigation strategies are explored. Results are validated by climate analysis and a review of the literature, showing that local farmers are proactively adapting to the climate.

The study concludes by highlighting the role of scientists in addressing these issues and proposing strategies to enhance collaboration between researchers and farmers.

Report presentation: Irrigation and food security. The situation in Spain.

Fecha: 25/01/2024

Cover of the presentation of the event. Irrigation for food security

Plataforma Tierra has presented on Wednesday January 24 the report published by Cajamar entitled “Irrigation and food security. The situation in Spain”, whose coordinators have been the professors Alberto Garrido (CEIGRAM, UPM) and Jaime Lamo de Espinosa (UPM). The event was held at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food headquarters in Madrid.

The presentation was opened and moderated by Eduardo Baamonde, President of Cajamar, who emphasized the need to implement strategies that allow a more efficient use of water and continue contributing to feed a growing population in an adverse agro-climatic situation such as the one we are currently facing. He highlighted the close link between irrigation and world food security.

Jaime Lamo de Espinosa, professor emeritus of the UPM and former Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, explained some of the main conflicts that are taking place in the world over the control of water. The former minister said that in a world with a growing population and with an increasing number of people suffering from hunger or malnutrition, according to FAO, irrigation makes it possible to produce much more food on a smaller surface area, making it the type of management that can provide solutions to this problem, without the need for new changes in land use, which negatively affect biodiversity. In addition, he also highlighted that with the uncertainty associated with climate change (recurrent droughts, torrential rains, temperature peaks, etc), irrigation can help improve yields and alleviate these uncertainties, and that it is necessary to seek alternative sources of water (desalination plants, reclaimed water).

Alberto Garrido Colmenero, presented details of the publication, which included the participation of a dozen specialists in water economics, sustainability, water technology and agricultural policy. He highlighted the importance of increasing freshwater harvesting capacity for irrigation as a key element for agricultural efficiency and productivity. He placed special emphasis on the need to address nitrate pollution and explore the use of renewable energies for more efficient water management.

Alberto Garrido during his presentation
Alberto Garrido

Luis Planas, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPA), underlined the close relationship between MAPA and UPM, highlighting the importance of irrigation in Spain’s food security. Planas advocated for efficient irrigation and highlighted the crucial role it plays in the generation of employment and in the country’s trade balance.

The minister shared positive data on the Spanish agri-food balance, which has experienced a positive balance in recent years. He emphasized the need to modernize the agricultural sector, adopting new technologies and tools such as the digital notebook for better control of the use of water and phytosanitary products.

Luis Planas, Minister of Agriculture, during his presentation
Luis Planas

The full digital version of the document is available for free download.

In conclusion, the strategic importance of irrigation in Spain’s food security was highlighted. The experts agreed on the urgent need to implement efficient measures to face the current challenges, emphasizing the adoption of modern technologies and sustainable strategies. The report presented reflects a detailed picture of the current situation, providing a solid basis for future decisions in the agricultural and water sectors.

CADENA SER BROADCASTS A REPORT ON THE LABOR CONDITIONS IN THE AGRICULTURAL INDUSTRY WITH THE PARTICIPATION OF TOMÁS GARCÍA AZCÁRATE

Fecha: 23/01/2024

Cover from Radio Periférica, a program of Cadena SER
Cover from Radio Periférica, A Vivir. A program of Cadena SER.

On Saturday, January 20, CEIGRAM asociate researcher Tomás García Azcárate, agricultural economist and Vicedirector of the Institute of Economics, Geography and Demography of CSIC, participated in the radio program A vivir que son dos días, on Cadena Ser, along with Marcos Garcés, farmer and regular collaborator in the program, and Manolo Presas, Galician fisherman.

In this program, entitled “working conditions in the primary sector”, topics such as the difficulty to attract the talent of new workers to the rural sector, a problem that Spain shares with its European neighbours, the urban-centrism and the separation of food production sites and the main consumer centers, and even cultural elements such as the social discredit suffered by the professions of the agri-food sector, have been discussed.

Tomás García Azcárate argues that, despite the high employability rate of agricultural and agri-food engineering (95%), there is a continuing deficiency of professionals. On the other hand, he stresses that there is no green agriculture in the red, indicating that it is essential to appropriately value and remunerate agricultural and livestock farms, so that they can offer attractive working conditions that can cope with both the lack of prestige and the hardness of the work itself. Having food at prices that are too cheap makes some people forget the costs and efforts required to produce it. Defending sustainable agriculture must go hand in hand with the defense of decent prices for farm products.

If you are interested in listening to the complete program (in Spanish), you can access it through this link: https://cadenaser.com/audio/1705748530281/

Cadena SER logo
Cadena SER logo

AGRISOST, Outstanding Project in the Engineering Field

Fecha: 22/12/2023

The Spanish Institute of Engineering has selected AGRISOST as an Outstanding Project in the field of Engineering, recognizing its will of social transformation and its innovative character.

AGRISOST is a sustainability and environmental protection project whose purpose is to explore agricultural production systems that integrate high production and environmental sustainability through appropriate management practices. The objectives of this project respond directly to the needs of the sector, in order to make the transition from our traditional agriculture to a climate-smart and digitized agriculture.

The Mediterranean region faces significant challenges for sustainable and sufficient food production, in a context of high risk of reduced crop yields and hydric availability, associated with climate change. Mitigation, adaptation and sustainable use of resources are priority actions that have been implemented in a coordinated manner in the AGRISOST Project. Actions such as balanced fertilization, proper manure management, application of crop rotations and cover crops, use of fertilizers with inhibitors of microbiological processes, all of them aimed at promoting the sustainability of agricultural systems, have been studied and implemented in long-term trials.

Since its inception in 2013 and throughout its two dilated stages over a decade (2013-2017 and 2017-2023), the Agrisost Project has had a large scientific production (63 SCI articles), as well as an important staffing, giving great importance to the transmission of knowledge, training of young researchers and collaborative work. The project has also included educational activities and participation in other Networks and Research Groups (RUENA, SIRENA, REMEDIA, CAPERMED).

From CEIGRAM we want to recognize the effort and achievements of this Project and we share the book that compiles the 52 projects highlighted by the Spanish Engineering Institute for Research, Development and Innovation in key areas for the future of our country. The link to the book can be found here: https://short.upm.es/w0ygt

Logo de Agrisost
AGRISOST’s logo

Successful results of the AgrosceNa-Up Project: Significant achievements in the reduction of nitrogen losses in Mediterranean agriculture

Fecha: 18/12/2023

Audience attending the event

Last November 29th, 2023 the presentation of the outcomes of the AgrosceNa-Up Project was held in the Assembly Hall of the School of Agricultural, Food and Biosystems Engineering (ETSIAAB-UPM), with the contribution of recognized national and international experts, revealing advances in the understanding of nitrogen (N) fluxes in agricultural systems and proposing management scenarios to reduce losses of this key element in agriculture.

The AgrosceNa-Up project, funded by the State Plan for Scientific and Technical Research and Innovation (2019) ( PID2019-107972RB-I00), evaluation of agricultural management scenarios at different scales for sustainable Mediterranean cropping systems by reducing N losses, led by Luis Lassaletta and Alberto Sanz-Cobeña, aimed at the comprehensive diagnosis of Spanish agricultural systems and to develop improvement strategies that reduce nitrogen losses. Seven management scenarios with potential to reduce N losses at regional and national level were identified. These scenarios include the use of organic fertilizers, the incorporation of fertilizer into the soil, the use of inhibitors and other technologies, irrigation management (fertigation), crop and soil management, the selection of specially adapted crop varieties and the elimination of urea.

Research Team of the Project

The great diversity of Spanish agricultural systems, either in terms of potential environmental impacts, efficiency or productivity, makes it necessary that adaptation and sustainable management strategies must be adapted to each specific territory, therefore, different spatial and system scales have been used in order to respond to the heterogeneity present in agricultural systems. Antonio Vallejo (CEIGRAM) highlighted the importance of the wide scientific output derived from this project and other interconnected projects, as well as the transfer of knowledge, both through the recruitment of young researchers for the development of this research output, and through direct contact with various relevant actors in the sector (public administration, researchers and international networks focused on nitrogen, farmers and ranchers, etc.).

Antonio Vallejo giving his lecture, accompanied by Eduardo Aguilera

The current context of climate change foresees higher impacts on yields for the countries of the Mediterranean basin than for their northern European neighbours. To ensure sufficient food production in this scenario of vulnerability, it is necessary to adapt to the new conditions. Nitrogen is a key element for maintaining or increasing crop productivity, and requires sustainable management aimed at preventing overfertilization to avoid contamination of water bodies (nitrates) and air (ammonia) and reducing greenhouse gas emissions (nitrous oxide). Miguel Quemada (CEIGRAM), for his part, focused on remote sensing and the role of technology in fertilization adapted to the crop’s requirements to reduce production costs on the one hand and minimize environmental impact on the other.

Most of the fertilizers used in the Iberian Peninsula have a synthetic origin, and yet, in Spain we have an important livestock population that generates nitrogen that sometimes is not being properly managed and can end up polluting bodies of water or air. Benjamín Sánchez Gimeno (INIA-CSIC), focusing his presentation on Murcia (region in Southeastern Spain), again placed the spotlight on the reconnection between crops and livestock, as well as on the increase of agriculture based on local organic inputs and reduction of overfertilization, especially in some irrigated areas to reduce the use of fertilizers and nitrogen losses, without a significant impact on yields.

Benjamín Sánchez Gimeno giving his lecture, accompained by Luis Lassaletta

In the AgrosceNa-Up Project, the co-creation activities have been given great attention, in collaboration with relevant actors in the sector (fertilizer companies, farmers and ranchers groups, public institutions, environmental NGOs and academia) in order to analyze the main barriers and limitations in the implementation of the different management scenarios aimed at reducing N loss, and possible actions have been jointly designed to facilitate their implementation. On the November 29th event, we had the opportunity to listen to two colloquiums with the attendance of Javier Brañas (Fertiberia), Ignasi Salaet (Fertinagro Biotech), Javier Alejandre and David Erice (Unión de Pequeños Agricultores y Ganaderos- UPA), Rosa Gallart (Interporc), Celsa Peiteado (WWF), Alejandro Benito (IMIDRA) and Carmen González Murua (UPV/EHU), representing the different parties that were present in the participatory process for the definition of a roadmap for sustainable nitrogen fertilization, in which aspects such as the need for guidance and training for farmers, the possibilities of designing incentive policies as opposed to punitive approaches, the need to reconnect livestock and agriculture to help the circular management of both or the importance of healthy soil were highlighted.

Javier Brañas, Alejandro Benito, Jorge Álvaro Fuentes, Carmen González Murua y Javier Alejandre in the I Coloquium
Celsa Peiteado, Ignasi Salaet, Bárbara Soriano, Rosa Gallart and David Erice in the II Coloquium

The proposals of the AgrosceNa-Up Project align with the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy. While recognizing that there is still a long way to go, the effort that has led to the reduction of a certain amount of nitrogen surplus in recent years has also been emphasized, with an account of the good agricultural practices that have driven this reduction. Hans van Grinsven (Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency – PBL) focused his presentation on European nitrogen regulations and the possible keys to an efficient transition towards a sustainable future.


Hans Van Grinsven giving his lecture

To close the conference, we were honoured with the presence of the Secretary General of Agriculture and Food, Fernando Miranda (currently Secretary General of Agricultural Resources and Food Safety), from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPA). In his speech he highlighted the role of the Ministry in the development and implementation of regulations limiting the use of fertilizers, as well as the ways to apply them. He also wanted to emphasize the usefulness of the Digital Booklet to plan reduction scenarios with knowledge of the reality of our agricultural systems, so that the decisions taken minimize the economic and social impacts on farmers, on the road to a more environmentally sustainable agriculture that maintains profitability and yields.

Isabel Bardají, José Manuel Palacios, Fernando Miranda, Luis Lassaletta in the closing table

AgrosceNa-Up is coming to an end as a project, but the people who have been part of it and the knowledge acquired will continue to search for efficient ways to manage nitrogen in pursuit of sustainability that will guarantee safe, sufficient and appropriate food, minimizing environmental impacts and ensuring that the conditions that allow current yields to be obtained continue to be maintained or improved. Spain is in a favourable position to meet its environmental commitments and ensure the long-term viability of its agricultural systems. The closure of the AgrosceNa-Up Project marks an important milestone on the road to a more sustainable and resilient agriculture in the Mediterranean region; the extensive scientific output of the project can be found at https://agroscenalab.com/en/scientific-activity/

II RUENA Online Conference on Why, How and When of the new regulations in agriculture

Fecha: 11/12/2023

On Monday, November 27, 2023, the II Online Conference organized by the RUENA Network was held to discuss the new developments and implications of the new regulations that are coming into force, with special emphasis on those that affect the use of fertilizers.

Participants included representatives from the MAPA and MITERD, as those responsible for the regulations, but also agents from the sector to present how these regulations can be tackled in a practical way from the field.

For those of you who could not attend the conference, the 6 videos of the presentations have been uploaded to RUENA’s website, and are available for consultation at the following link: https://short.upm.es/tf0ue

Red RUENA Logo

Margarita Ruiz Ramos, new expert in the European Commission

Fecha: 05/12/2023

Original news source: SAVIA, ETISAAB Newsletter. November 2023. (spanish)

Margarita Ruiz Ramos

Margarita Ruiz Ramos is a professor in the Department of Agricultural Production at the School of Agricultural, Food and Biosystems Engineering (ETSIAAB), exsecretary of the Research Center for the Management of Agricultural and Environmental Risks (CEIGRAM) and member of the research group on Agricultural Systems (AgSystems). From December 1, she will also be one of the experts advising the European Commission on the upcoming climate challenges.

The academic has been recruited for the Leading National Experts program, through which the member states of the European Union send for a limited period of time (2 years, extendable for another 2 years) officials specialized in a subject in which the European Commission requires advice and management. One of these matters has to do with climate. Margarita Ruiz Ramos has therefore joined the Directorate General for Research and Innovation and, specifically, the Climate and Planetary Boundaries Unit to provide her expertise in these matters. The main objective will be to implement the European Green Deal and to address issues that deepen Earth system science, adaptation and Earth system science, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and biodiversity.

The teacher received the vacancy in July, through the Center for the Development of Inclusive Technologies (CEDETI), and had to work “against the clock” to make a decision practically “overnight”. And the reason for accepting was clear to her: “I thought it would be difficult to find a position again with a profile so in tune with my line of research and the experience I have had as a scientific collaborator in the Spanish National Research Agency”. Margarita Ruiz Ramos has spent six years collaborating in the management of international programs at this Agency, and this is precisely the reason why she has lost the “allergy to management” that she confesses is typical of researchers. “I am a researcher very focused on investigation and, over the years and due to the contact with the Agency, I have become more and more attracted to management,” says Ruiz Ramos.

In the journey that is about to begin, her work will consist of helping to implement, monitor and propose improvements that will then be passed on to the European Commission. In this sense, there are five main lines of action: policy development, with program implementation; policy analysis, which will allow the results to be studied; policy monitoring, to support policy dissemination; policy coordination, to facilitate the transfer of knowledge; and the final management of these programs. final management of these programs.

Change of plans

The professor acknowledges feeling very excited “to provide scientific support” but, at the same time, admits that it has been an “important decision” that has meant “changing the mental scheme I had made for myself”. Just a few days before receiving the call for applications, she won the competition for her Chair Professorship and her idea was “very different,” she says. In her mind, she envisioned a calmer year, focused on research, as Principal Investigator in a recently approved project of the Fundación Biosiversidad. This decision has meant “undoing all the plans I had and embarking on something new,” but she says she is “really excited” about this new stage.

In this new challenge she has just embarked on, she does not forget the support and backing she has found along the way. “Everything has been supportive at all levels and bodies I have had to turn to,” she says, recalling that the support of all her teaching colleagues, CEIGRAM, the department, the School, the Rector’s Office and the research group of which she is a member have been decisive in making the decision. A path that she is sure she will also pave for others with her knowledge.

AgroSceNa-UP publishes the Policy Brief entitled “Defining a roadmap for sustainable nitrogen fertilization”

Fecha: 23/11/2023

The AgroSceNA-UP project publishes the Policy Brief entitled “Defining a roadmap for sustainable nitrogen fertilization” with the objective of contributing to the transition towards more sustainable systems by providing information to policy makers and other stakeholders in the sector on what actions can be taken to overcome the barriers that are currently limiting the implementation of strategies to reduce nitrogen losses.

The Policy Brief is the result of a participatory workshop involving representatives of key industry stakeholders such as farmers, livestock producers, fertilizer companies, sectoral units of public administration, environmental organizations and research.

The main outcome of the Policy Brief is that the diversity of constraints and actions to be carried out to favor the implementation of N loss reduction scenarios implies that the design of the roadmap to advance the sustainability of nitrogen fertilization requires a holistic approach that facilitates the transition from a farm-centered approach to a territorially integrated one, considering for example the coupling of plant and animal productions. This transition must be carried out with a multi-stakeholder approach, considering all the actors in the value chain, and with the participation of academia, civil society and local, regional and national authorities.

The document with complete information can be found by clicking here.

To enroll in the AgroSceNA-Up Results Presentation Day, please click on the following link.

The TVE news broadcasts a report on vertical agriculture with Rubén Moratiel, CEIGRAM researcher

Fecha: 22/11/2023

Video: ‘Vertical agriculture, crops at different heights produced in cities’.

Vertical agriculture is proposed as a solution for producing food in urban areas, reducing the transportation costs and its ecological footprint. Food security for a growing world population, population density in cities and the scarcity of arable land are problems to which this type of agriculture aims to provide a solution.

These crops do not compete for land use because they do not occupy productive spaces; water use is reduced by 95% and, in addition, being in closed environments, the presence of pests is minimized and pesticides and herbicides are not needed for their control.

Rubén Moratiel, CEIGRAM researcher and professor at ETSIAAB, has been invited to promote the benefits of this type of crops in the news broadcast on TVE’s Telediario 2, on November 20.

If you are interested in seeing the full report, click on the following link: https://short.upm.es/pnbd4

Why is water reuse key to a sustainable and circular future? RECLAMO in the Science Week

Fecha: 16/11/2023

Participation in the RECLAMO workshop

On Wednesday, November 15, the School of Agricultural, Food and Biosystems Engineering (ETSIAAB) of the UPM was the scenario of an interactive workshop in the framework of the XXIII Science and Innovation Week of the Community of Madrid. This workshop highlighted the importance of reuse and circular management of water to promote a sustainable future.

The leading speakers of this experience were the distinguished CEIGRAM researchers Mario Ballesteros, Paloma Esteve, Irene Blanco and Sergio Zubelzu, from the RECLAMO Project (The contribution of water REuse to a resourCe-efficient and sustainabLe wAter manageMent for irrigatiOn). With enthusiasm and expertise, they guided the High School students of the Enriqueta Aymer School through the various aspects of Water Reuse, exploring its possibilities, limitations and opportunities.

During the participatory workshop, the young participants gained a deep understanding of the urban water cycle, debunking myths about the unsafety of reclaimed water and recognizing the imperative need to preserve both the conservation status of rivers and the water needs of population and industry. This meeting resulted in a valuable educational experience, enriching environmental awareness and fostering a more holistic approach to water management in our society.

With initiatives such as these, the RECLAMO project promotes the transfer of knowledge and reinforces its commitment to research to address contemporary water challenges. This workshop inspired young people to consider the essential role that water reuse plays on the path to a sustainable and resilient future.

Mario Ballesteros with a word cloud about water reuse

CEIGRAM researchers have participated in the International Congress on Agricultural Insurance.

Fecha: 18/10/2023

On October 4, 5 and 6, the International Congress on Agricultural Insurance was held, organized by ENESA within the framework of the official activities of the Spanish Presidency of the EU Council. This Congress took place in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, and dealt with the effects of climate change on farms and the Insurance System itself.

CEIGRAM’s contribution to this Congress was presented by Isabel Bardají, Director of CEIGRAM. Her presentation focused on analysing the main impacts and adaptation to climate change in agriculture, based on studies and research carried out by CEIGRAM researchers in various fields.

Firstly, to address the impacts, the results obtained on cereal yields were presented, using various projections of agro-meteorological parameters under different climate change scenarios, as well as the recent evolution of the most relevant extreme events for agricultural insurance in significant locations for the main crops.

On the other hand, to address the potential of adaptation, the positive results obtained in different studies were presented, by modifying management practices such as sowing dates, conduction or irrigation systems, changes in varieties using those more resistant to droughts or with different cold requirements; these studies have been carried out in crops such as cereals, vines, olive groves or peaches. The conclusion drawn from these studies is that adaptation is possible, although it requires combinations of both management and plant varieties, and should be considered locally, assessing the different options for each case.

CEIGRAM researchers Ana María Tarquis, Isabel Bardají and Margarita Ruiz, with the Congress poster
Figure 1: CEIGRAM researchers Ana María Tarquis, Isabel Bardají and Margarita Ruiz, with the Congress poster
Isabel Bardají impartiendo su ponencia
Figure 2: Isabel Bardají delivering her lecture

New CEIGRAM information brochure

Fecha: 01/12/2022

As part of the recent rebranding of the Research Centre for the Management of Agricultural and Environmental Risks (CEIGRAM), we have produced a new brochure that summarises the activity, values, mission and vision of our centre.

Below, you can view and download the new CEIGRAM brochure:

This new brochure has been made possible, in large part, thanks to the work and support of the company MUAK Studio, whom we have contracted for this purpose.

Download here the new CEIGRAM brochure.

GoNEXUS Project: Europe water-energy-food nexus (WEFE) challenges identified

Fecha: 07/11/2022

Maria Blanco (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and CEIGRAM) and the EU case study team are collaborating with experts, policymakers and other relevant stakeholders to define the key WEFE nexus challenges in the EU.

Climate change and increasing pressure on natural resources have been identified as some of the major challenges that will affect Europe in the coming decades, resulting in consequences such as migration pressure, food price shocks, water scarcity, irrigation inefficiency and imbalances in energy markets. These factors will become more impactful with time and represent the key elements of our EU GoNEXUS case study.

To address socioeconomic and environmental challenges from a nexus perspective, the EU case study team has identified the most important WEFE challenges. These nexus challenges will be further discussed and refined through dialogues with stakeholders. The all-encompassing challenge is that water scarcity and pollution will have major ramifications on other sectors, such as irrigation, energy prices, food security and biodiversity. The main challenges are listed below.

Challenge #1: Growing water scarcity and water stress index due to increasing water demand related to macroeconomic trends (demographic pressure, increasing food demand…) and climate change (a warmer and drier climate).

  • Specifics of the challenge: Food and energy security require large amounts of fresh water. Water is one of the essential resources in both sectors, acting as a crucial component for irrigation. The demand for natural resources is likely to increase over the coming decades due to growing global population numbers and economic development. At the same time, climate change may lead to lower overall water availability. Consequentially, water scarcity, variability and uncertainty are becoming more prominent, which could lead to vulnerabilities within the energy and food sectors.
  • Why this challenge matters? The EU is promoting initiatives to address water scarcity, such as investments to improve water use efficiency and the reuse of wastewater for irrigation. However, those solutions do not come without a cost. Energy requirements to transport reclaimed water from wastewater treatment plants to irrigated areas are high. While water reuse for irrigation may contribute to the reduction of water stress in coastal areas where irrigation is an important component of water demand, it may also contribute, in a more indirect way, to nutrient pollution migration. Addressing water scarcity requires paying attention to the impacts on energy demand, food security and ecosystems conservation.
  • Relevance: This challenge is linked to the Water Framework Directive, the European Green Deal, the Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) and SDG #6.

Challenge #2: Green energy transition and the reduction of CO2 emissions

  • Specifics of the challenge:
  • Energy use accounts for 75% of EU GHG emissions, making energy system transformation an integral part of the EU’s climate ambition. The green energy transition involves a higher share of renewable energy, replacing thermal and nuclear power generation vulnerable to water availability and temperature increases. Therefore, the transformation of the power sector can help mitigate the effects of water scarcity in a warmer and drier climate. However, greening the energy system can have negative economic impacts. Furthermore, hydroclimatic scenarios also consistently show negative impacts on hydropower generation and biomass potential.
  • Why this challenge matters? It is crucial to assess the impacts of climate adaptation strategies and energy policy measures from a nexus perspective, to account for the impacts not only on climate neutrality but also on water use and the agrifood sector. Additionally, assessing the ability of renewable sources to improve energy use efficiency is an essential aspect of the challenge that our work will contribute to. Through investigating this challenge, our main goal is to examine if the envisaged solutions to promote the energy transition are resilient in the context of the WEFE nexus, specifically focusing on climate neutrality, hydropower generation and biomass potential.
  • Relevance: This challenge is linked to the European Green Deal, which sets an ambition for a climate neutral Europe in 2050, the Energy Efficiency Directive, Fit for Purpose, Renewable Energy Directive, and SDG #7.

Challenge #3: Reconciling water, energy and food security with ecosystems conservation (and other environmental effects)

  • Specifics of the challenge: The agrifood system, which now accounts for almost a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, consumes large amounts of natural resources, contributes to soil and water pollution, and leads to biodiversity loss. Additionally, the energy sector is one of the major contributors to GHG emissions and the increase in water consumption reduces environmental flows and impacts freshwater ecosystems. Hence, we need to rethink our food systems, which now account for almost a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, consume large amounts of natural resources, lead to biodiversity loss. Promotion of sustainable agriculture may help to protect the ecosystem.
  • Why this challenge matters? There are a number of areas that require further research. For example, we are investigating how the increase in energy use due to the growing energy demand for irrigation (and other related activities such as water transfers and pumping) will impact the ecosystems. Also, we are looking into how irrigation water demand can be reduced to protect natural ecosystems, how water scarcity affects the ecosystems and how we can achieve food security and sustainable agriculture production with ecosystem conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources.
  • Relevance: This challenge is linked to SDG #13, 14 and 15, the Zero Pollution Action Plan (reducing pollution at source, e.g. pesticide use) and the European Green Deal (Farm to Fork Strategy, Biodiversity Strategy).

Challenge #4: Weak governance of the WEFE nexus

  • Specifics of the challenge: Overall, cross-sectoral coordination of governance systems is insufficient. As a result, policy measures and regulations aiming at improving one part of the nexus often lead to overtaxing or affecting another part. The search for policies and governance mechanisms that are robust under changing conditions as well as economically and ecologically sustainable is crucial to minimize cross-sectoral trade-offs and promote synergistic actions.
  • Why this challenge matters? Despite ambitious policymaking to improve resource efficiency and sustainable management of natural resources, the EU still faces complex sustainability issues at the nexus coherence between water, energy, food and ecosystems. It is important to identify the WEFE policy solutions that are effective as well as coordinated both from a sectoral perspective and a spatial perspective (from the EU to the subnational level)
  • Relevance: This challenge is linked to SDG #17.

To overcome these challenges, GoNEXUS is combining expert knowledge with modelling tools at the EU level. These modelling tools include an integrated water resource and crop model (LISFLOOD-EPIC), an agricultural-food model (CAPRI), an energy model (PRIMES) and an ecosystems model (GLOBIO). These models are currently being improved to address these challenges and will help to evaluate the impacts of the EU regulatory framework on the water, energy and food sectors as well as to assess the ability of EU policies to manage WEFE nexus challenges. Ultimately, we aim to make progress towards designing more sustainable and coherent policies and solutions for the efficient and sustainable management of the WEFE nexus in Europe.

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GoNEXUS Project: Challenges of the water-energy-food nexus in the European Union

New image of CEIGRAM

Fecha: 18/07/2022

New CEIGRAM logo.

From the Research Centre for the Management of Agricultural and Environmental Risks (CEIGRAM), we are pleased to announce that we are currently in a process of renewing the graphic image of the center. All this has been possible, in large part, thanks to the work and support of the company MUAK Studio, whom we have hired for this purpose.

The changes we have made will be reflected in the logo of the research centre, as well as on the website, social networks and graphic material, both digital and physical, that supports the activity and evolution of CEIGRAM (rollup, brochure, among others).

Next, you can download the new official CEIGRAM logos for your use.

New CEIGRAM logo with tagline (original colors):

Soon, we will be sharing through this same channel a brochure that summarizes the activity and trajectory of CEIGRAM in the last fifteen years.

International Nitrogen Workshop to be hosted in Madrid

Fecha: 30/05/2022

Between October 24 and 28 of this year, the International Nitrogen Workshop will be held in Madrid, organized by the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid through ETSIAAB, CEIGRAM and its researchers Alberto Sanz Cobeña and Luis Lassaletta.

Agro-food systems are fuelled by nitrogen. About 80% of this valuable resource is lost to the environment before reaching our plates. We refer to this loss as nitrogen waste.

The ambitious goal of halving nitrogen waste by 2030 requires important coordination of many actors: multidisciplinary scientists, farmers, industry, policy-makers, NGOs, and consumers.

In the words of its organizers, the XXI International N Workshop will contribute to this challenge by welcoming contributions dealing with different spatial scales (from the plot to global) and system scopes (crop, livestock, agroforestry, forestry, urban and agro-food systems). We will discuss these communications allocated in five regular- and three special sessions, together with eight interesting keynotes during five exciting days in October 2022 in Madrid, Spain.

There are eight confirmed keynotes dealing with multidisciplinary issues and diverse scales:

Mark Sutton (CEH, UK): Halving N waste: general perspectives

Nandula Raghuram (INI-Director, India): Crop improvement for NUE

Laura Cárdenas (Rothamsted Research UK): N2O emission factors

Xin Zhang (Maryland University, USA): NUE in cropping systems

Aimable Uwizeye (FAO): NUE in livestock systems

Gilles Billen (CNRS, France): Agro-food system scenarios

Jill Baron (USGS, USA): Farmers’ involvement in reactive N abatement

Estela Romero (CREAF, Spain): N dynamics in river basins

Eight confirmed keynotes

Five regular sessions are structured following a system’s scale organization. Each session counts with a specific committee of experts:

1.       Plant-soil system

2.       Animal system

3.       Animal-plant-soil system

4.       Agro-food system

5.       Landscape system

Three special sessions on relevant topics:

Remote sensing for N optimization and precision agriculture. Coordinated by Miguel Quemada and Jose Luis Pancorbo (UPM, Spain), which includes an invited talk by Urs Schmidhalter (ETH Zürich, Switzerland)

Costs and benefits of halving N waste by 2030. Coordinated by Hans van Grinsven (PBL, Netherlands) and Bonnie Keeler (University of Minnesota, USA)

N and circular economy. The role of affected stakeholders. Coordinated by Raúl Moral (UMH, Spain) and María Cruz García González (ITACyL, Spain)

Abstract submission is open until the 20th of June.

If you have questions, do not hesitate to write to nitrogen_madrid@upm.es

You can find all the details here: https://nworkshop.org/

Spanish universities and CEIGRAM continue working together to deliver EIT Climate-KIC programmes

Fecha: 11/03/2022

Source: EIT Climate-KIC Journey

The Technical University of Madrid and the University of Valencia have collaborated since 2019 and have jointly run the EIT Climate-KIC Journey programme for three years. Hosts Esperanza Luque Merelo and Lola Garzón Benítez believe their universities benefit from attracting talented, enthusiastic participants from across Europe – as well as offering Spanish students a change to network and learn more about climate innovation. In 2021, the Technical University of Madrid also ran a pilot of the EIT Climate-KIC Climate Innovation Leadership (CIL) programme, which will be merged with Journey in 2022.

“Participating in these EIT Climate-KIC programmes provides so many opportunities – training, tools and the chance to learn about the latest climate action topics. It is also a chance to belong to a multicultural, international Alumni community.”

Lola Garzón Benítez, Associate Professor in the Department of Business Management, University of Valencia

“We’ve seen time and time again that the networks created by these EIT Climate-KIC programmes provide a wealth of support for participants, hosts and coaches. It’s great to be part of an inspiring community and knowing like-minded people who you can share ideas and information with.”

Esperanza Luque Merelo, Project Manager at the Research Centre for the Management of Agricultural and Environmental Risks (CEIGRAM), Technical University of Madrid

The EIT Climate-KIC programme Journey has been jointly run by the Technical University of Madrid and the University of Valencia for three years. Working at the CEIGRAM research centre at the Technical University of Madrid, Esperanza Luque Merelo says the collaboration is very enjoyable and one of the best parts of being a host, “is to work in an international environment.”

Lola Garzón Benítez, an Associate Professor at the University of Valencia, has worked on the Journey programme since the university began running it 2013: “These programmes are a good opportunity to raise awareness of the university internationally, as students from across Europe join them. In the beginning, not many participants were Spanish or Southern European – thankfully, this has changed in the last few years and it is great to see motivated and enthusiastic people from many different countries work well together.”

One of the benefits of being a host is sharing latest developments with a wider audience, says Esperanza: “Our research centre is active in adaptation and mitigation and concerned with adapting food systems to new requirements, helping them become more sustainable. As a host, I am motivated to share what we’re working on with participants and it is great to have different teachers who are experts in various areas and disseminate knowledge in different ways. We have enjoyed this experience for the last four years.”

In 2021, the Technical University of Madrid also ran a pilot of the EIT Climate-KIC Climate Innovation Leadership (CIL) programme, which will be merged with Journey in 2022. Lola and Esperanza agree that these programmes are a welcome addition to the universities as sustainability becomes increasingly mainstreamed in their institutions. The programmes also help break stereotypes, says Esperanza: “We had an older participant who was worried about the age gap – but he loved it, was happy to get involved, other participants learned a lot from him and vice-versa.”

Natural synergies are also strengthened, says Lola “My PhD student who recently participated is now training to become a coach – it’s like the beginning of a wheel!” While the COVID-19 pandemic has made planning more difficult, Esperanza and Lola have adapted: “We’ve done our best to prepare a good programme while face-to-face teaching isn’t possible – and we will continue to do so.”

Part of the EIT Climate-KIC Journey team from Madrid and Vàlencia in the 2019 edition (Quixote Journey).

The UPM and CEIGRAM carry out the Climate-KIC Journey in Madrid for the fourth consecutive year

Report prepared by CEIGRAM researchers within the framework of the SHERPA Project: Change in production and diversification of the rural economy

Fecha: 25/02/2022

Within the framework of the European Project SHERPA, CEIGRAM researchers Isabel Bardají, Bárbara Soriano and Carina Folkenson have prepared the following report: Change in production and diversification of the rural economy

Topic and headline messages:

Efforts to diversify the rural economy will only be fruitful if the general living conditions and standards are in place, such as housing, communication, and services. Without adequate general living conditions, people will continue to emigrate from rural areas regardless of the efforts made to generate work opportunities.

In order to diversify the rural economy, sectoral approaches will only be partially effective. Instead, a comprehensive and horizontal strategy is needed, incorporating all sectors and themes. This strategy should be the foundation for coordinated actions undertaken by all actors involved. The kind of actions that will be effective in stimulating the diversification of the rural economy are different in different rural areas, mainly related to how close to an urban centre the rural area is located.

Find more information about the SHERPA Project on its official website: https://rural-interfaces.eu/

Redefining Agricultural Insurance Tools: The BEACON project is coming to an end, but its results will go on!

Fecha: 27/01/2022

Following three years of implementation and two years of pilot iterations, as well as the validation of Pilot Data and Operational Data Products, the BEACON project is successfully reaching its end.

Results showed that BEACON toolbox managed to achieve in terms of service uptime and thus significantly reducing the Agricultural Insurance (AgI) process cycle-time, especially for contracts that covered calamities such as frost, flood, fire, and windstorms, minimizing the evaluation and the compensation / reimbursement time of a farmer to a week. For insured parcels under hail, BEACON toolbox offered a more accurate evaluation of damage under 40 days following the extreme event, bringing again time savings, even of less extent. On average it is estimated that the achieved AgI Process cycle-time decrease varies between 70% to 95%.

Similarly, the automation achieved within the AgI companies level reached more than 90% and could be increased further where the BEACON toolbox integrates directly with already utilized ERP and SAP systems. Automation among actors of the AgI supply chain was also piloted, and fully realized, achieving a 100% acceptance of data rate and information availability.

The BEACON Toolbox is ready to offer the AgI customers a list of clear benefits:

1. Seamless contract monitoring through better contract overview;

2. More accurate climatology and forecast dynamic statistics that assist underwriting and damage prevention in general;

3. Better cost optimization gained through higher operational efficiency:

better distribution of employees

• prioritization of in-field visits based on an accurate overview of damaged parcels

• information about the damage before clients;

4. Improved trust and transparency among AgI supply chain actors by enabling the quick uptake of blockchain and through smart contracts handling;

5. Higher consistency of the whole AgI business pipeline.

BEACON’s final message to its target AgI customers, through a now validated and proved definite value proposition, is that its toolbox couples leading earth observation technology with weather intelligence, and blockchain technology delivering cost-efficient and actionable insights for the agri-insurance industry, representing the end-to-end solution for AgI users.

BEACON

The BEACON Horizon 2020 project started 3 years ago and lasts this month. The project consortium was KARAVIAS Underwriting Agency (Greece), AGROAPPS PC (Greece), UNIVERSIDAD POLITECNICA DE MADRID (Spain), ETHERISC GMBH (Germany), UNIVERSITY OF BELGRADE FACULTY OF CIVIL ENGINEERING (Serbia), INOSENS DOO NOVI SAD (Serbia) και ΕΤΑΜ ΑΕ (Greece).

Url: https://beacon-h2020.com/

The UPM and CEIGRAM carry out the Climate-KIC Journey in Madrid for the fourth consecutive year

Fecha: 07/10/2021

For the fourth consecutive year, the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) was one of the venues for the Climate-KIC Journey, the largest summer school in Europe on innovation and entrepreneurship to face the challenges posed by climate change. This year, it was again organized together with the Universitat de València and was called The Spanish Journey.

During this year, the Journey was made up of several stages (Legs 1, 2, 3 and 4), with Madrid and Valencia being part of number 2. In total, around 200 students participated this year in nine Journeys organized online by universities and research centres in ten European cities (Dublin, Lisbon, Madrid, Valencia, Zurich, Tallinn, Riga, Malta, Timisoara and Limassol).

For the second consecutive year, all Journeys have been developed online, to avoid health risks, given the Covid-19 pandemic situation in Europe. All this has once again been a challenge in the organization and implementation of the same.

Between July 26 and 30, the UPM, through its R + D + i CEIGRAM centre, coordinated the celebration of the Journey in Madrid, co-organizing Leg 2 of this summer school with the Universitat de València, in charge of this Journey between August 2 and 6.

Participants of the Climate-KIC Journey (Madrid, 2021) during the opening session.

CEIGRAM, led by the scientific head of the program, Margarita Ruiz Ramos, CEIGRAM researcher and professor at ETSIAAB-UPM, and Esperanza Luque, project manager at CEIGRAM and local manager of the Journey in Madrid, with the support of Hamid Yammine (communication and logistics), designed a program with sessions and activities that made up the Journey. For this, we had expert researchers and consultants in different sectors affected by Climate Change, alumni of Journeys from previous years, virtual guided visits and other activities related to the risks generated by climate change. Discussions have been generated between the speakers and the participants, which have led to a greater awareness of this great challenge, to be inspired and put on the stage of what the problem of climate change represents for life on the planet, today and for generations to come. During the Journey, the students have been coordinated by two coaches (recruited directly by Climate-KIC): Clara Giberga (Spain) and Rowan Simonsen (Denmark), who have been with the students during the Journey, encouraging participation and work as a team in a dynamic and creative way.

This year, again, we had the opportunity to have a session with Vera Estefanía González, from the Spanish Office for Climate Change, an expert in climate policy, who offered the students a broad overview about the current political scenario and how the negotiations on this matter at European and global level, while answering concerns and questions that arose during the session.

Also during this Journey we once again have the support of GuMNet (Guadarrama Monitoring Network), a climate, meteorological and environmental observation network in the Sierra de Guadarrama. Among the presentations related to these sessions, a general presentation on what the problem of climate change represents for the planet, by Fidel González-Rouco, was the starting point; And as a novelty this year, there was the participation of Ana Moreno Caballud and Blas Valero Garcés, from the IPE-CSIC (Pyrenean Institute of Ecology), in addition to a broad description of the objectives and instrumentation of the GuMNet Project. For the visits, filming and preparation of the material for this session, we had the logistical support of Patrimonio Nacional de la Herrería, and with researchers from CEIGRAM, from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (especially that of Félix García Pereira and Cristina Vegas), CIEMAT and IPE-CSIC.

In another session and in collaboration with the itdUPM and the Madrid City Council, it was explained what the Madrid Deep Demonstration project on clean and healthy cities consists of. For this, we had the support of Luisa Guerra and Sara Romero from itdUPM, and Alicia Carvajal, from Dark Matter Labs, who were in charge of describing how the evolution and co-design of this Climate-KIC and city council of Madrid initiative has been.

We also had experts on issues related to climate impacts and challenges for two days: Noemí Merayo (UPM), Jordi Domingo (Fundación Global Nature), Enrique Sánchez (Universidad de Castilla La Mancha) and José Luis Postigo (Universidad Rey Juan Carlos), who together with Professor Margarita Ruiz Ramos promptly assisted the students in concerns related to the challenges that arise in the field of water use, agriculture, weather, security and migration. In the first of these sessions, in addition, one of the participants of the Journey (Lisa Michel) was invited to represent her companions in the panel of experts, which greatly animated the session.

Another session offered during this year was that of “Feeding the world in a warming planet”, coordinated by CEIGRAM researchers Alberto Sanz Cobeña and Ivanka Puigdueta, who have also participated as experts in previous Journeys. During this year they highlighted especially the importance of consuming local products to reduce our carbon footprint around the issue of food. This session was also attended by people linked to the Food Wave project, in which the Madrid City Council participates along with 16 other countries in the world, with young actors with the aim of raising awareness about sustainable approaches to the consumption and production of food in our cities. A short presentation was made, inviting students to participate.

After Madrid, the Journey continued until August 6 by the Universitat de València, led by Professors Lola Garzón Benítez and Marta Pla-Castells. During this second phase of Leg 2, students worked individually and in teams on topics such as creativity, change management, business modeling, storytelling and entrepreneurship, among others.

The next stage, Leg 3, was focused on collaborative learning, applying the knowledge acquired in a more local context, and at the same time interacting with the entire Journey community in a broader way.

Finally, between September 10 and 12, the Community Summit of the Journey (Leg 4) was held, also online, an event that was also open to young students from all over the world, in order to share success stories and failure around the Journey, thus enriching the path towards the design of the system that allows facing the challenges that climate change represents.

The students of the Spanish Journey, organized by groups and to fulfill one of the tasks of the course, outlined several projects related to 1) The complexity of the food system; 2) the need to implement green energy; 3) The circular economy applied to the world of gym equipment; 4) Promote environmentally sustainable changes in behavior.

On the other hand, it is worth noting that around twenty students from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid participated in Journeys organized in other cities.

The EIT Climate-KIC Journey undoubtedly represents an opportunity for the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid to position itself at the forefront of the fight against climate change both academically and professionally, allowing its students to interact with students and experts from other countries, knowing first-hand the initiatives that are being carried out at the European level to face this great challenge, awakening their concerns and promoting potential networks at a global level that in the future may be translated into successful initiatives.

This year, in addition, CEIGRAM and UPM are also participating in the Climate Innovation Leadership (CIL) pilot program, in which students from different European universities (including more than ten from UPM) receive training on tools that allow them to do facing the climatic challenges that our planet currently faces. One of the parts of this pilot program has been constituted, precisely, by the Journey. Added to this, both the UPM and the CEIGRAM will be present soon in what will be the Climathon in the city of Madrid.

Twitter: @CKJ_Madrid

Instagram: @ckj_Madrid

Last session of the Climate-KIC Journey in Madrid (2021).

ETSIAAB-UPM students participate in the summer school “Host Plant Resistance Breeding as a part of Integrated Pest Management”, within the framework of the Erasmus+ ESCAPAdE project

Fecha: 31/08/2021

Six ETSIAAB students and Professor Elena Benavente participated in the summer school “Host Plant Resistance Breeding as a part of Integrated Pest Management” during the month of August, held at the SLU (Alnarp, Sweden), in the framework of the Erasmus+ ESCAPAdE project, a project in which the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid has participated through CEIGRAM since its inception in 2018.

Between August 17 and 21, students attended the course, which included topics related to Pests and pathogens, plant defence and resistance biology, chemical ecology, control methods and plant protection in relation to global climate change, among others. This, along with a series of assignments until August 27 that were completed from home, gave the students 3.0 ECTS at an academic level.

During the summer course, the students also made presentations related to the topics covered, which allowed a greater exchange of knowledge among all the participants. In this sense, it is worth noting that the summer school was attended by students from the seven institutions that are part of ESCAPAdE ( BOKU, CZU, DUTH, SupAgro, ETSIAAB-UPM, SLU and D3A-UPM).

Later, between August 23 and 24, also in Alnarp, students had the opportunity to attend a job fair organized by ESCAPAdE, with significant support from PLANTLINK, where students and companies representatives had the opportunity to exchange concerns and prospects for the future of the sector, leaving open possibilities for professional connections in the future.

The ETSIAAB students who accompanied Professor Benavente representing the UPM were Sebastián Cainarca, Pablo Mata, Juan Navarro, Cristina Sáiz, Alejandro Sánchez and Elena Sánchez-Brunete.

From CEIGRAM we are very proud to participate in projects such as ESCAPAdE, which beyond innovation in the field of teaching and research, provides opportunities like this to students of our university to expand their knowledge and perspectives for their future.

ETSIAAB-UPM delegation at the summer school “Host Plant Resistance Breeding as a part of Integrated Pest Management” (Alnarp, Sweden).
Summer school “Host Plant Resistance Breeding as a part of Integrated Pest Management” (Alnarp, Sweden).

New edition of the Climate-KIC Journey organized by the UPM through CEIGRAM

Fecha: 02/07/2021

For the fourth consecutive year, the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid has been selected to be one of the venues for the Climate-KIC Journey, the largest summer school in Europe in innovation and entrepreneurship to face the challenges posed by climate change. The Journey offers a unique combination of academic study and real-world experience through a multidisciplinary program organized by the best universities in Europe.

Around 200 students will participate this year in Journeys organized online by nine universities and research centres in ten European cities (Dublin, Lisbon, Madrid, Valencia, Zurich, Tallinn, Riga, Malta, Timisoara and Limassol).

This year, the Climate-KIC Journey will begin on July 10, with a first week of Journey in which all participants will be together in the so-called Leg 1.

During Leg 1, participants and coaches will get to know each other and develop a community spirit before embarking on individual Journeys. The main objective of this stage is to build a common learning base on climate change, systems thinking, system innovation and leadership concepts, which are key to allowing participants to have a mutual understanding and mental model about climate change, its root causes and consequences. Leg 1 will take place between July 10 and 17.

Subsequently, after a week off, students will join their respective Journeys (9 in total) from July 26, the day on which Leg 2 officially begins. In said Leg 2, the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid shares headquarters with Valencia, this year again represented by the Universitat de València.

At this stage, each Journey will be accompanied by two coaches, whose objective is to guide the students throughout the Journey, supporting the students in the work they must do and energizing the different processes and relationships that are being created along the way throughout summer school. In the case of our Journey, the coaches assigned for this year are Clara Giberga (Spain) and Rowan Simonsen (Denmark).

In this phase, the focus is to build on the foundation created in Leg 1, but also to gain a good understanding of the specific circumstances on the challenges of climate change in a local context (Madrid and València). The local ecosystem will be explored and used to provide study cases with the objective of examining key concepts learned in Leg 1 and understanding and proposing solutions with a systemic approach.

In addition, at this stage students will work in teams of 3-5 people on a topic of their choice related to what has been identified as high leverage points within a chosen ecosystem, and from there they will deliver a system innovation plan at the end of Leg 2.

Specifically, the program in Madrid will take place between July 26 and 30, and will have experts from different disciplines directly related to the problem of climate change, including professors from the ETSIAAB, professionals in the area, representatives of administrations and alumni of the Journey that have been part of this summer school in the past.

Session of the Madrid Journey in its 2020 edition.

The Journey team of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid is made up of the ETSIAAB professor and CEIGRAM researcher Margarita Ruiz-Ramos (Principal Researcher), Esperanza Luque Merelo (Management and organization) and Hamid Yammine (Support in management, organization and communication).

The next stage, Leg 3, focuses on collaborative learning, since the participants will “return home” and make the learning received so far their own, applying it to their local ecosystem, but will continue to interact with the entire Community of the Journey of broader form. During this time, they will develop and begin to implement a personal action plan in their local context, using a peer-coaching group. In addition, there will be time to connect with other participants of the Journey through specific sessions.

Finally, between September 10 and 12, the Community Summit of the Journey (Leg 4) will be held, an event that will also be open to young students from all over the world, in order to share stories of success and failure around the Journey, thus enriching the path towards the design of the system that allows to face the challenges that climate change represents.

This year, in addition, CEIGRAM and UPM also participate in the Climate Innovation Leadership program, in which students from different European universities (including more than ten from UPM) receive training on tools that allow them to face challenges climate conditions that our planet is currently facing.

From CEIGRAM and the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid we are very excited to continue being part of this wonderful initiative of Climate-KIC and to join in the fight to generate greater awareness at the citizen level on issues related to climate change and sustainability.

The journey

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