The Center has been created by the University of Trento and Fondazione Edmund Mach to enhance and strengthen the collaboration between the two institutions.
The work of the Centre is focused on high-quality research and training in smart agriculture, and in particular on the production of quality food products, the reduction of environmental impact and a sustainable use of resources. With an interdisciplinary approach that encompasses genomics and field trials, the centre aims to reduce the human impact on the environment, both natural and man-made, through the development of integrated, low-impact and sustainable products, instruments, methods and strategies.
The Centre is the academic home of the undergraduate programme in Viticulture and Oenology and of the doctoral programme in Agrifood and environmental sciences. He is a partner in the Master’s degree in Environmental Meteorology. The research programme of the Centre includes an extensive network of local, national and international collaborations.
Infrastructure and Equipment
The Centre is located in the premises of Fondazione Edmund Mach, which inherited the aims and work of Istituto agrario di San Michele all’Adige in 2008, and consists of a 14-hectare agricultural campus with lecture rooms, greenhouses, laboratories, office space and 70 hectares of green spaces, 16 km north of Trento, in San Michele all’Adige.
The Centre is equipped with state of the art laboratories and equipment to carry out research projects in the areas of genomics, metagenomics and metabolomics, chemistry, food screening, agronomy, environmental science, agrarian microbiology, plant pathology and entomology.
The equipment for field research includes controlled temperature greenhouses, tunnels for semi-field tests, experimental fields, a wide range of microclimatic sensors and agro-meteorological stations that collect meteorological information and are connected to a remote-sensing acquisition systems.
Our core research areas
Research is directed to the development of a sustainable farming system capable of reacting to biotic and abiotic environmental stress factors through low-impact agronomic techniques, the replacement of synthetic pesticides with molecule-based active substances and natural micro-organisms, and the use of resilient varieties together with beneficial micro-organisms.
Other research areas include: assessments of the impact of pesticides on the environment; the development of innovative agrochemicals and semiochemicals and adequate strategies to mitigate their effects; risk assessments, prevention, and defence against invasive non-indigenous species; soil protection and conservation through characterization of its biological fertility, with special attention for its
microbiome, and the multi-trophic relationships between plants, environment and the organisms that inhabit it. The Centre also aims to study the genetic traits, biology and nutritional requirements of cultivars, investigate gene control mechanisms useful to crops, improve the genetic diversity of germoplasm, and contribute to precision genetics in view of adapting crops to the environment.
Quality food products
The Centre is committed to develop the culture of food production, bearing in mind both tradition and innovation, focusing on high quality and healthy products from a component, technological and functional point of view. In doing this it will pay attention to mountain products, precision oenology, processing and conservation, and the strengthening of the nutraceutical properties of food products.
To perform metabolomic and lipidomic analyses the centre uses instrumental-analytical methods like mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), side by side with advanced data mining methodologies, to characterize the fine composition of food products and beverages and their interactions with the human body. The metabolomic approach allows researchers to study the many aspects that, from
the field to the table, determine the quality of food products. The Centre participates in interventional studies taking a multi-omic approach that adopts a holistic and interdisciplinary perspective to examine the different aspects of nutrigenomics and personalized nutrition.
The Alpine environment
The monitoring of alpine ecosystems for biodiversity estimate and conservation, in different areas and different time frames, is a unique trait of the Center. The importance of measuring biodiversity as an indicator of the ecosystems’ health has been recognized by the most important environmental organizations on earth like the Group on Earth Observation and the Committee on Earth Observation Systems, of which the Centre’s researchers are members. The proposed approaches include: ecology of vegetal and animal communities, computational ecology and landscape ecology, species distribution models, as concerns in particular an estimate of the dissemination of invasive species. The Center supports innovative methodologies in the area of ecological modelling based on land images and remote sensing, through the development of open source algorithms.