Regenerating Villa Fortuna (RVF)
Camila Arza Garcia, Director
Dr. Cristiano Del Toro, Chief of Operation
Dr. Rachele Stentella
Prof. Stefano Bocchi, University of Milan
Dr. Sumer Alali, Ph.D,
Dr. Valentina Vaglia, Ph.D. student
Regenerating Villa Fortuna project is possible thanks to the Fondazione Capellino, which owns the pet food company Almo Nature Benefit spa. The company’s profits are entirely used by the foundation (a unique economic model) to support this project in order to preserve biodiversity in an integrated environmental-socio-economic approach.
The Project is an on-field construction of agriculture diversification, considering the maximum ecological interaction between species: herbaceous, shrubs and arboreal grouped in spatial-temporal sets called consortia that interact with each other according with syntropic agriculture theories and practices.
The data related to the measured variables (listed below, including the market) of this agroecosystem, compared with the intensive field, will be monitored, evaluated and made public over a period of at least 10 years.
The scientific part of the project will verify and document the results related to the experimentation of the agricultural syntropic system in an Italian climate context.
The initiation of an agricultural system on that area cannot be excluded from the study of the real status of living elements (Fungi, Bacteria, Flora, Fauna etc.), the soil Physico-chemical parameters and pedo-climatic characteristics, in their succession and transformation over the time, starting from a determined 0 time of the investigated system.
The study and analysis of the state of art will allow to obtain data that can be compared with the results that will be obtained through the long-term experimental study.
The abandoned conventional agricultural area, from which the RVF project begins is a starting point to concretely verify the transition to a replicable and scalable syntropic model, that is, an agricultural system that reproduces inputs, rather than merely consuming them, and that guarantees useful outputs in scientific, practical, environmental, economic and social aspects.
Villa Fortuna with its available hectares for agricultural experimentation (ex-arable and woodland) is located in an Italian municipality San Salvatore Monferrato.
This town is located in the province of Alexandria in Piedmont.
The design process will bring innovation to the territory through the application of new techniques and strategies for agriculture, but wants to preserve, at the same time, the identity of the territory.
In the design of the area, interventions will be planned for the enhancement and improvement of the landscape, both from an ecosystem point of view and from a figurative and perceptive point of view, in continuity with objectives of the landscape quality, to which the planning tools are pointed at a territorial scale and local scale for the wildlife conservation.
Scientific controllers are going to study the established system from the biotic and abiotic point of view.
The results thus obtained and discussions will be published progressively through formal and informal communication channels.
Evaluate homogeneous areas in order to obtain statistically valid data
Here we are proposing a measurement methodology for wide range of variables, Air, Soil, Flora and Fauna, Water, Productivity, Energy, Economics with an annual report of each.
An integrated and compared environmental-social-economic balance will be performed too.
Different parameters will be used for each variable. To monitor their performance according to a selected scale of values, using external benchmark for the comparison of the project results respect to a conventional reference systems
To evaluate the system, we are going to implement two models, comparing them with an external local benchmark evaluated by selected parameters for each variables.
- Syntropic agriculture
- Conventional agriculture (benchmark)
considering all the analysed variables integrating them in a unique balance, considering also their impact from environmental-social-economic point of view according to the best practices.
by implementing integrated thinking (Holistic vision), in order to produce a balanced value between the different variables from the different approaches, that is the two models and the benchmark.
- Characterizing the microclimate of the study area;
- Assessing the effect of the created system on mitigation and adaptation to climate change
On-field weather stations will be used for monitoring at different levels of the system, starting from the soil up to the vegetative mass. Measurements include greenhouse gas emissions, temperature, precipitation, humidity, wind, radiation and light intensity.
- Evaluation and analysis of the impact of practices and agronomic choices on biodiversity, and the evolution of the chemical and physical parameters of soil;
- Monitoring maintenance capacity and agronomic soil performance without the use of external inputs to the system
Specific probes will be used for field monitoring to study continuous parameters (e.g. soil temperature and humidity). In addition, physico-chemical parameters, biological quality, enzyme assays and molecular analyses will be carried out to assess the activities of organisms in the soil and verify their identity.
- replacing the conventional irrigation through the implementation of techniques for “water cultivation” thanks to the efficient and effective use of the water resource with an agronomic soil management that improves its water retention and the efficiency of water use by plants. In addition, the recovery of the water of the residential settlements and stormwater will be carried out, improving the quality of the water
Through the implementation of agronomic practices to improve the structure and quality of the soil, that will be monitored with special tools and other systems designed for the recovery, filtering and purification of water.
- Monitoring and analysis of biodiversity according to a systemic approach, starting from the general to the particular and considering all the realms of the living and their structural and functional aspects within the system.
The biodiversity of living systems will be considered with respect to landscape, different species and genetics. Data sampling will be done through the use of traditional and molecular methods to extrapolate and cover knowledge about all the communities present, being able to assess their evolutions and interactions between ecological niches (e.g. the study of interactions between bacteria-fungi-plants-insects).
- Measuring and evaluating the production of plant consortia of the system by investigating quantity, taste and quality in terms of nutritional values and the produced biomass, considering the physiological state of plants.
To obtain data about this variable, quantitative measurement of net produced fruits, vegetables and leaves will be performed. In this case data will determine the provided ecosystem services of productivity by the syntropic agroecosystem, indicating the efficiency of the nutrient cycle in this closed system.
Finally, productivity data will be the dependent factor of the forecasting model to be designed for future scenarios of an additional application system. Tis will allow us to introduce more practices and evaluate new scenarios of productivity.
- Monitoring and analysis of the energy balance that supports the models and benchmark being considered. The data collection will investigate all the inputs and outputs of the energy system (from human labour to machine energy, etc.) to assess the efficiency of the systems, identify waste reduction practices and implementing a low-impact circular system.
Once the research system’s boundaries are established, data on the energy resources will be collected. The parameters that will be considered are, mainly: the use and origin of the materials used in the system, the sources of energy for the operation of the system and its efficiency of use and implementation of an annual monitoring.
- economic monitoring, analysis of both models and the external benchmark to compare the long-term results.
By calculating the economic balance in terms of financial income and outcome.