CAMA : Research-based participatory approaches for adopting Conservation Agriculture in the Mediterranean Area

Project identifier 233-CAMA
Project Status ongoing
Start date 2020-07-01
End date 2023-06-30
Roadmap Theme
  • Sustainable intensification: Soil, water, land and input management
  • Sustainable intensification: Ecological intensification approaches
  • Sustainable intensification: Identification and breeding of animals and crops to maintain/increase productivity
  • Type of Project Development and innovation oriented (research) project
    Type of Project Institutional capacity building project
    Programme PRIMA
    Keyword conservation agriculture; soil management; water management; crop rotation; minimum tillage; legumes
    Location Italy; Greece; Tunisia; Algeria; Morocco; Spain; Portugal; France
    Budget 1 500 000
    Main Funder Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD) (H2020)
    Coordinator Council for Agricultural Research and Economics (CREA)
  • Agromnia
  • Arvalis - Institut du Végétal
  • Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Zaragoza (IAMZ-CIHEAM)
  • University of Lleida
  • CSIC - Spanish National Research Council
  • Portuguese Association for Mobilization of Soil Conservation (APOSOLO)
  • Instituto Nacional de Investigação Agrária e Veterinária (INIAV)
  • Hellenic Agricultural Organization DEMETER (ELGO)
  • Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique de Tunisie (INRAT)
  • Association for Sustainable Agriculture (APAD)
  • École Nationale Supérieure Agronomique (ENSA)
  • Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA-MAROC)
  • Project Web Site
  • Poster presentation about CAMA project. Virtual National Congress of Italian Society of Agronomy. 16-18 September 2020
  • PRIMA 2 booklet
  • Description


    Among the major challenges in the multidisciplinary fields of research, agricultural entrepreneurship and sustainable development science in the Mediterranean there are some related to encourage the spread of innovative techniques in agronomics to improve soil fertility and at the same time ensure satisfactory harvests, even in the presence of a reduced availability of water due to the growing drought. According to studies and estimates of the White Paper on Agriculture and Climate Change of the Ministry for Agricultural Policies, 75% of Italian soil is at risk of accelerated erosion due to the steepness and non-conservative management practices. According to an ISPRA’s Report, Italy, due to water erosion of the soil, i.e. the loss of the most superficial layer of the soil due to the action of rainwater, is losing 8.77 tons of soil per hectare every year with levels above the EU average.  Crop management in Mediterranean rainfed cropping systems, is usually finalized to a more efficient water use. Most soils have low soil organic content, due to low water availability,  high temperature and tillage intensity.  Conservation agriculture (CA) – no soil layers inversion, plant residues mulching and crop rotations - could reduce the risk of soil quality degradation and improve nutrient and water use efficiencies.


    The funding will be used to study the main social, economic and agronomic obstacles that prevent the implementation of conservative agriculture by small farmers from different areas of the Mediterranean in order to preserve soil quality and reduce water erosion, thanks to innovative practices of conservative agriculture and testing of new varieties of legumes, to the recovery of traditional association practices and cover crops. The main activities will be evaluation, monitoring, dissemination of knowledge and exchange of know-how on the Italian and other countries of the researchers and farmers of the CAMA project team. The presence in the consortium of farmers’ associations, public research institutes and a post-graduate education center will guarantee a strong multidisciplinary, multicultural interaction and exchange at local and international level between scholars and all final beneficiaries.

    Expected impacts

    The research activity based on farmers’ needs will bring to new crop rotations, breeding of legume crops, technological innovations and will identify new cropping systems in semi-arid environments requiring reduced water and nitrogen fertilisers application amount.  Researches on rainfall water infiltration, soil water depletion, the effect of mulching on the reduction of rainfall impact, water use efficiency assessment in several case-studies of CA will be carried out, also by means of simulation models. Legume crops will be improved genetically and evaluated in diversity-based systems of CA tailored for specific condition. Cost-efficient genomic selection of drought-tolerant legume crops will be validated and compared to conventional phenotypic selection in conditions of crop monoculture and intercropping.  Some CAMA’s activities can be considered in the stage “from idea to application”, while others fall into the “from lab to market” stage. The project will cover Technology Readiness Levels from 3 to 7 at its conclusion. A range of dissemination activities of the research results will be carried out, with specific international training courses.