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
Five regular sessions are structured following a system’s scale organization. Each session counts with a specific committee of experts:
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.”
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Challenges that threaten the performance of farming systems have put resilience high on the agenda. Actions and strategies to stimulate the resilience of farming systems should follow six key principles that describe how actors in the farming system and its environment (governments, value chain businesses, banks, advisors and others) should act. How these principles translate into concrete recommendations is specific to regions and sectors. A co-creation process such as a policy dialogue should be created to develop roadmaps towards supporting resilience.
Challenges that threaten the performance of farming systems such as droughts and price drops, originating from stress and shocks such climate change, geo-political uncertainty, trade conflicts, changing consumer preferences and also the very recent COVID-19 crisis have put resilience higher on the agenda. Ensuring a resilient farming sector was among the prominent goals of the European Commission’s proposal for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post-2020. The Green Deal, the Farm-to-Fork Strategy, the Biodiversity Strategy and the EU Recovery and Resilience Plan reinforced the call for enabling resilience. Hence, the institutional and socio-economic environment in which farming systems are embedded should stimulate the capacities of robustness, adaptability and transformability as well as its anticipating capacity.
SURE-Farm’s 6 key principles for enabling resilience
SURE-Farm has investigated the resilience of EU farming systems from various points of view and with a diversity of methods. Based on its work, SURE-Farm derived principles for enabling resilience and developed more concrete roadmaps towards higher farming system resilience. The resilience-enabling principles describe how actors in the farming system and the enabling environment should act to foster resilience. They are based on an analysis of the systemic behaviour of the system, i.e., the decisions made by the actors within the farming system and within its environment when dealing with challenges in the past.
Roadmaps towards resilience: need for a policy dialogue
The systems analysis has led to six principles to guide farming systems and enabling environment actors how to stimulate resilience. Translating these principles into concrete recommendations needs to be done through a regional and/or farming system specific approach. We advocate to set up a resilience enhancing policy dialogue gathering all relevant actors from a farming system and its environment. Policy dialogues, also called roundtables or task forces, bring diverse interest groups to the table, focus on an issue that is of common interest, and seek to formulate practical solutions to problems. Within the SURE-Farm project, such policy dialogue has been initiated in the form of a participatory roadmap workshop in 11 casestudies, with the aim to define actions and strategies to enable resilience, based on the defined principles. Recommended actions and strategies within the roadmaps that resulted from these workshop are case-study specific. Nonetheless, the following 14 common themes are proposed:
Develop new institutional arrangements within the value chain and promote diversity of marketing channels
Invest resources in product differentiation and new business models
Increase investment in rural development and improve the attractiveness of rural areas, especially to the young generation
Improve entrepreneurship of farmers through education, social learning and advisory services and strengthen AKIS
Invest resources in adaptation of farming systems’ production and marketing modes
Create awareness about long term trends and challenges within the farming system
Reward farmers for their contributions to public functions
Develop and maintain a long term vision at farm, farming system and policy level
Invest in impact assessments of alternative (adapted or transformed) farming systems
Develop institutions that allow more flexibility to farming systems
Involve multiple actors in concerted efforts and address the institutional and structural mix rather than to rely on single instruments
Stimulate a diversity of pro-active risk management strategies
Facilitate access to land and labour
Support for horizontal and vertical cooperation in rural development programmes
A broad range of stakeholders, farmers and policy makers share SURE-Farm’s perception that enhancing resilience is necessary and urgent. SURE-Farm is convinced that by addressing its six key principles and adopting its wider set of recommendations, stakeholders and policy makers, in a concerted effort, can enhance the resilience capacities of Europe’s farming systems towards the future.
After four years, DIVERSify, a European H2020 project investigating mixed cropping as a technique within sustainable agriculture, comes to an end.
The DIVERSify project aims to optimise the performance of crop species mixtures or ‘plant teams’ to improve yield stability, reduce pest and disease damage, and enhance stress resilience in agricultural systems. It focuses on improving the productivity and sustainability of European agriculture using an approach that has global relevance, learning from the experience of international researchers and stakeholders.
Since its inception, this project has had the participation of the Professor of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (ETSIAAB) and researcher at CEIGRAM M. Inés Mínguez. Also had participation in the project CEIGRAM researchers Isabel Bardají, Rubén Moratiel and Alberto Garrido.
Next, we present a video with the final recommendations from the project:
Future Agri-food Systems for a socially and environmentally sustainable transition: Co-design of strategies for the mitigation of environmental risks in water and atmosphere in natural spaces of the SUDOE territory
The AgroGreen-SUDOE project seeks to develop proposals for the management of farming systems, with regional and actor sensitivity, that lead to a minimum environmental impact of agricultural activity in the SUDOE territory (Spain, Portugal and southern France). The project is developed within the framework of the Interreg V-B Southwestern Europe Cooperation Program (SUDOE) and has funding of more than one million euros from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
In the framework of the project, the management scenarios (management practices such as fertilization and irrigation) will be co-designed based on a process of synthesis of existing information, generation of new data and estimation of agri-environmental impacts through modeling tools. All this with the aim of incorporating the vision and sensitivities of the main actors involved in the process of production of food of agricultural origin, as well as in the development of public policies in the agricultural and environmental field. That is why one of the axes of the project is the creation of the AgroGreen-SUDOE Multi-Actor Platform in which the co-design of scenarios pivots.
The project is coordinated by the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid through CEIGRAM and its partnership is structured on two levels: beneficiary partners and associates. The beneficiary partners are 6, two per country and with representation from the academy and the world of agricultural producers (final recipients of the final product of the project):
The group of associated partners, more numerous (20), responds to the same profiles, adding the administrative facet in the environmental and agricultural fields:
The final product of the project will be a visualization tool for the agri-environmental impacts associated with crop production in the SUDOE territory through different crop management practices, with a special focus on fertilization and irrigation. This product will be the result of the conjunction of scientific rigor (data, modeling tools and previous experience of contrasted groups), of transnational cooperation and of the co-creation process within the AgroGreen-SUDOE multi-actor Platform, to face a common problem and provide sensitive solutions to each region.