Replicability of VISCA: Wine-grapes, Olives & Cereals – Challenges, Requirements and Funding

One of the objectives of VISCA project is to evaluate the replicability potential in the wine sector in different countries globally as well as to evaluate the replicability of the tool in other crops such as (olive oil, cereals, etc.). This evaluation involves exploring EU funding mechanisms for further deployment. During VISCA 2nd Stakeholders’ Workshop, end-users and members from the Project Advisory Board participated at a session to gather inputs on the challenges, requirements and funding for the replicability of VISCA which are summarised below.

Climate change: Challenges facing the Agriculture sector

Climate change is threatening different varieties of agriculture species such as wine-grapes, olives and cereals which might cause a significant reduction in crop quantity and quality. Some of the impacts of climate change include the following:  

  • Drought and heat waves - in southern regions of the Mediterranean basin– more frequent drought periods together with higher temperatures, especially during the summer, have resulted in water scarcity and, consequently, less water is available for irrigation.
  • Frost - In northern and southern Europe, e.g. Germany, the Netherlands and Italy, agricultural productivity has been facing longer frost periods than usual which damage the crops.
  • Wildfires - Warmer and drier conditions are expected throughout Europe in the coming decades which will probably exacerbate wildfires. According to the Emergency Management Service of the EU agency Copernicus as of March 1, there have been 480 wildfires in 2019 across Europe.[1]
  • Extreme events - High intensity rainfall and/or hail, among other extreme events, have been extended and become more severe in Europe and beyond. The rate of these events is expected to increase due to climate change.[2]

The main challenges of the wine-grapes, olive and cereals sectors in the context of climate change were identified as the following:

  • To keep the quality and production of crops
  • To deal with extreme events and variations in climate conditions
  • To manage the irrigation efficiently according to existent resources and weather conditions
  • To prevent or minimize crop diseases and pests especially with their increasing rate due to climate change

The above-mentioned challenges have made farmers in different countries use specific models to design adaptation strategies in order to improve agricultural practices and adapt to climatic changes especially with regards to irrigation management, diseases management and improving productivity in the fields.

VISCA tool: Requirements for replicability

VISCA tool has been designed closely to the needs of wine producers and it is expected to add value in their businesses, saving resources and adding quality to this sector. Replicability of VISCA tool in other crop varieties and/or other growing areas is possible with limited efforts to adapt the tool. Short, mid and seasonal modules are common for all the crops. The efforts are limited to adapt the phenological and irrigation model to other crops’ growing cycles and to adapt the downscaling techniques in other growing regions. Taking the example of olives and cereals, only for olives the phenological layer can be useful after adjusting it to the olive crop cycle, but not for cereals. Therefore, depending on the crop, the functionalities of the tool can be adjusted.

In order to encourage farmers to apply VISCA tool and other similar climate services in their sector, some ideas were collected including:

  • To work together with champions in the agriculture sector and influencers to apply these services in different crop varieties
  • To provide and disseminate the added value of climate services in the agriculture sector and in designing adaptation strategies
  • To teach farmers how to make decisions with climate services including dealing with uncertainty (in terms of probabilities)
  • To keep improving the skill of the short, mid and seasonal forecasts, so that growers can make decisions with the best possible forecasts

Climate services: Economic impact & funding

Without a doubt, one of the main targets of VISCA, and other climate services, is to make economic benefits in the following terms:

  • Savings due to control of diseases (pesticides)
  • Savings due to improved irrigation of crops
  • Properly adjusting the harvest dates according to the forecasts as well as to the market needs

Financing measures and/or funding programmes for applying climate services in the agriculture sector are being explored, some could be realised under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) or PRIMA  or Life programme among many other funding European programmes.

Finally, VISCA project is still undergoing its studies and analysis regarding replicability. A survey to collect more insights is expected to be launched during the coming period.

[1] Wildfires spike across Europe amid record hot temperatures in February, euronews [link]

[2] Europe's chaotic weather in 2018 is wake-up call for climate change [link]

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 730253.