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Innovation for Sustainable Agro-Food Chains

The development of any production-chain always relies on the solution of several critical problems, leading at the end to the improvement of productivity, food security, and generate income and employment by linking the production to market opportunities. Nowadays, one major concern in production chain is the increasing demand for animal and plant derived foods, which has been responsible for the growing pressure over land use with all negative consequences. Development of the livestock and crops at global level as well in Portugal, puts pressure on the environment, human health and the welfare of animals. In addition, the climate change is also an extra pressure for sustainability, and thus increasing efficiency but decreasing the environmental footprint is urgently required. Means to improve sustainability and productivity of agro-food systems implies new and innovative approaches.

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The main aims of the Innovation for Sustainable Agro-food Chains - ISAC research line are, by one hand, to assess the understanding of how impacts from agriculture, climate change and land use affect ecosystems functioning and diversity and how these impacts may be mitigated and, by the other hand, how the production conditions can be improved to increment the productivity, economical income and quality of life of farmers and regional population.

To accomplish the general goals stated above we propose to achieve the following scientific objectives:

i. Develop applied research to agro-food production chains;

ii. Address technological questions from producers and stakeholders through innovative tools and solutions;

iii. Develop effective solutions, through applied research, to address an efficient strategy leading to a decrease of GHG emissions and improve efficient use of animal manures;

iv. Development of crop models through new and updated methods maximizing the yields and nutritional quality in a context of climate changing conditions;

v. Fostering applicable methods to evaluate the bioactivities of various agro-food products and co-products. Develop effective processes and solutions to optimize human and animal health, through studies of plant biotechnology, bioactivities, and quality control;

vi. Aligned with RIS3 and regional thematic programmes, stimulate economic growth and attract companies for the social and territorial cohesion by increment of knowledge and innovation, and efficient use of local resources, which contributes to create employment and quality of life.

This research line intends to introduce innovative agricultural practices and technologies that promote the performance of main agro-food chains nowadays under adverse climate conditions, to protect the environment and the quality and safety of food products, to reduce costs and provide ecosystem services, contributing to achieve sustainable development of agro-food chains and rural areas.

The ISAC research line is organized in five integrative and complementary projects:
» Project 1. Animal Production - Introduction of Mediterranean legume grains for animal feeding
» Project 2. Fruit production – Improving cropping practices and mitigation measures in a changing environment
» Project 3. Improving olive orchards cropping practices to cope with a changing environment
» Project 4. Bioactives from vegetable crops, MAPs and natural co-products
» Project 5. Improving agronomic nutrient cycling, reuse of wastes and animal manures