Saturday, August 26, 2017

Climate warming effect on grape and grapevine moth

The grapevine moth Lobesia botrana (Den. & Schiff.) (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) is the principal native pest of grape in the Palearctic region. In the present study, we assessed prospectively the relative abundance of the moth in Europe and the Mediterranean Basin using linked physiologically‐based demographic models for grape and L. botrana. The model includes the effects of temperature, day‐length and fruit stage on moth development rates, survival and fecundity. Daily weather data for 1980–2010 were used to simulate the dynamics of grapevine and L. botrana in 4506 lattice cells across the region. Average grape yield and pupae per vine were used as metrics of favourability. The results were mapped using the grass Geographic Information System ( The model predicts a wide distribution for L. botrana with highest populations in warmer regions in a wide band along latitude 40°N. The effects of climate warming on grapevine and L. botrana were explored using regional climate model projections based on the A1B scenario of an average +1.8 °C warming during the period 2040–2050 compared with the base period (1960–1970). Under climate change, grape yields increase northwards and with a higher elevation but decrease in hotter areas. Similarly, L. botrana levels increase in northern areas but decrease in the hot areas where summer temperatures approach its upper thermal limit.

Gutierrez A.P., Ponti L., Gilioli G., Baumgärtner J., 2018. Climate warming effects on grape and grapevine moth (Lobesia botrana) in the Palearctic region. Agricultural and Forest Entomology, 20: 255-271. | Open access

Distribution of average changes in the abundance of Lobesia botrana pupal density, given an A1B scenario of 1.8 °C average temperature increase between 2041–2050 (future) and 1960–1970 (baseline), and as affected by bottom-up effects from grape plant dynamics.

Friday, July 14, 2017

MED-GOLD project proposal selected for funding

MED-GOLD (Turning climate-related information into added value for traditional MEDiterranean Grape, OLive, and Durum wheat food systems) will demonstrate the proof-of-concept for climate services in the agriculture sector by developing case studies for three hallmarks of the Mediterranean food system: grapes, olives, and durum wheat.  Agriculture is primarily climate-driven and hence highly vulnerable to climate variability and change. Evidence suggests that the Mediterranean region is under immediate threat of shifting climate patterns and the associated ecological, economic and social effects. Developing a capacity to turn the increasingly big climate-related data into tailored climate services that can inform decision-making in agriculture is, therefore, a priority both in Europe and worldwide. The long-term goal of this project is to make European agriculture and food systems more competitive, resilient, and efficient in the face of climate change, by using climate services to minimize climate-driven risks/costs and seize opportunities for added-value. The MED-GOLD project aims to develop climate services for olive, grape, and durum wheat crop systems that are the basis for producing olive oil, wine, and pasta. This set of crops and related food products is of utmost climatic, ecological, economic, and cultural relevance to the Mediterranean region. Because olive oil, wine, and pasta are not only hallmarks of the Mediterranean diet but also food commodities with a global market, there is considerable potential for developing climate services with high added-value for olive, grape, and durum wheat. A key challenge is to co-design prototype pilot service applications involving both suppliers and users in the three major traditional Mediterranean crop systems so as to demonstrate the added-value of data/information-driven responses to changes in the climate system. The operational decision-making of users will be reviewed to either identify key decisions or introduce new actions that can benefit from climate-related information at different timescales from months to decades.

European Commission, 2017. € 123 million of Horizon 2020 funding for 27 environment & resources projects. EASME News |

The MED-GOLD logo

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Resilience to climate change in agricultural systems

Climate change is impacting agroecosystems widely. Ecological connectivity makes regions more resilient and hence helps conserve biodiversity and combat climate change, while ecologically sound analysis and management help keep agroecosystems alive. In this context, a bioeconomic approach may help guide the integration of natural and human systems. In Umbria, the origin of this approach was the opening lecture of TreviNatura (Trevi, Italy 25-27 October 2015) delivered by Professor Andrew P. Gutierrez (CASAS Global) and titled  "The economy of nature and humans: the role of ecosystem services" that illustrated the often conflicting interaction between humans and nature, and how this interaction can be best understood using bioeconomics, with ecosystem services playing a central role. The region of Umbria in Central Italy is particularly amenable to developing and implementing a holistic approach to the integrated management of agricultural and natural ecosystems, because this region has pioneered biodiversity conservation and management at both national and European level, and it is about to deploy a third improved version of its Regional Ecological Network. Notably, the local environmental protection agency ARPA Umbria is committed to a systemic vision of the environment where the different components (e.g., agricultural, natural, urban) interact in complex ways and hence may not be managed separately. This commitment will build capacity by developing specific research projects, higher education, and training. The Workshop "Biodiversity for ecologically based resilience to climate change in agricultural systems" was a key step for developing a Summer School on Agroecology, to be held during 2018 at the Polvese Island's Research Center for Climate Change and Biodiversity in Wetlands and Lakes (see the draft program for the Center).

Workshop - Biodiversity for ecologically based resilience to climate change in agricultural systems. Department of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences, University of Perugia, Italy, 31 May 2017. Program and info

Monday, March 13, 2017

Bt cotton in India: critique of a macro analysis

This paper is a critique of Srivastava and Kolady (Current Science, 2016; 110: 3-10) who reported a macro analysis of the benefits of Bt cotton in India using statewide average data. The analysis is in error with respect to the economic benefits, biological underpinnings, and the effects of Bt cotton technology adoption on resource-poor farmers growing rainfed cotton. Viable non-GMO high-density cotton alternatives that increase yields, reduce cost of production, and give higher net average returns were ignored. The authors argue for biotechnology adoption in other crops in India without providing data or analysis

Gutierrez A.P., Ponti L., Baumg√§rtner, J., 2017. A critique on the paper ‘Agricultural biotechnology and crop productivity: macro-level evidences on contribution of Bt cotton in India’. Current Science, 112: 690-693. Full text free to download

Trends for cotton yield, pesticide use and the percentage of total cotton growing area planted to Bt cotton.