Testing network to place the Basque Country at the pinnacle of European agricultural research

Álava, Bizkaia, News

The NEIKER technology centre will carry out long-term experimental trials that will facilitate the generation and transmission of knowledge between the different agents in the agricultural sector.

The knowledge obtained from these 40 hectares of trials will enable the creation of models and scenarios that guarantee more sustainable food production.

The BALTSAN research network will contribute to positioning the Basque primary sector as a reference in agricultural innovation at European level.

The Basque agri-food sector is immersed in a profound ecological and digital transformation in order to face future challenges such as the loss of biodiversity or the impoverishment of soils, the lack of generational replacement, or the growing consumer demand for more sustainable food. For this transformation to be effective, however, it must be accompanied by a regulatory framework and a research strategy that is robust, sustainable and adapted to the new needs arising from the climate emergency.

In this scenario, the NEIKER technology centre, specialising in the development of technological solutions for the first sector, has launched the BALTSAN initiative, a network of long-term experimental trials in areas such as sustainable agriculture and soil health that will help to position the Basque Country as a benchmark territory in agricultural R&D&I at European level.

“The network will be nourished by the generation and interpretation of the data and knowledge obtained in these long-term trials to be able to create models and scenarios that guarantee more sustainable food production”, explains Carlos Garbisu, scientific director of NEIKER.

European benchmark in agricultural research

The aim of setting up this research network is to boost the competitiveness and resilience of the Basque primary sector in the face of future challenges arising from climate change, guaranteeing the conservation of natural resources such as soil and biodiversity, as well as cultural heritage.

The technology centre will use its experimental fields in Derio (Bizkaia) and Arkaute (Araba) to create this network of long-term agricultural trials. As NEIKER’s scientific director explains, “these fields will function as ‘living labs’ or living laboratories that will not only generate fundamental knowledge but will also become testing and demonstration points for agri-food research in the Basque Country”.

In particular, the trials will focus on six areas of research: cereals, vineyards, nut trees, regenerative rotational grazing, forest monitoring and conventional and ecological farm rotations.

Initially, more than 40 hectares will be dedicated to trials which, among many other aspects, will make it possible to compare the yields and sustainability of conventional and organic wheat, assess the potential for planting nut, hazelnut and almond trees in our territory, determine the viability of regenerative rotational grazing, and evaluate the impact of agricultural practices on soil health and biodiversity.

This initiative is in addition to a series of new policies, strategies and regulations, including the European Green Pact, the Biodiversity Strategy and the “From Farm to Fork” Strategy, at European level, and the Basque Green Deal and the Basque Government’s Circular Economy and Bioeconomy Plan 2024, promoted by the Basque Government, at local level.


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