A. Battilani
In many countries sustainability is an important driver for many of policies: nearly all the already enforced or forthcoming regulations include sustainability aspects. But sustainability is not solely about wise and equitable use of resources or climate change adaptive actions, it also concerns waste reduction, minimizing energy, water and land consumption making efficient use of any kind of external inputs, in the frame of a broader bio economy concept. Coupling Bio and Circular economy concepts is deemed our best option to finally achieve a sustainable production of food, functional and nutraceutic compounds, industrial products and energy. In this new economy, the definition of biomass encompasses any biological material to be used, or reused, as raw material in the same or in interconnected productive processes. The focus on total harvested biomasses, instead on the primary product it is probably one of the most innovative concepts backing future economic growth. As a matter of fact, it can play an important role in both creating economic growth, in stimulating technological development and in formulating effective adaptation to global challenges. Nevertheless, the first impact of sustainability criteria applied to the current economic model has been an increased competition on the main resources, namely: i) water; ii) land; iii) external inputs –i.e., energy, nutrients, chemicals; iv) capital, both financial and human. Farmers, academy and industry will have to adjust and re-orient their programmes in order to develop new farm and food production systems, in line with new policies and external drivers. The new agro-food production systems must be designed in order to match the following constraints/criteria: i) ensure profitability at farm level; ii) production of the consistent quality raw materials required by food processing and by bio refineries; iii) produce internationally tradable food products and related know-how and technologies; iv) improved energy efficiency at each step of the production chain; v) increasing resilience and self-sustainability, coping with the progressive onset of climate change; vi) secure environmental and social sustainability. Hence, significant outcomes from genomics, agronomy, food science and technology are necessary. Among the most significant and promising innovation there are: i) precision farming and irrigation; ii) nanotechnology and bio-nanotech; iii) robotics and mechatronics applications; iv) genomic and plant molecular physiology studies; v) increased use of second generation biomass, like agro-food residues and non-edible or non-commercial oils. Current limitation of resources availability is giving stimulus to innovation in the whole agro-food sector, challenging farmers and industries.
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2015.1081.1
KBBE, circular economy, innovation, sustainability

Acta Horticulturae