Academic paper examines changes in Intensive Greenhouse Horticulture in Spain

CHAP Innovation Sector Lead Richard Glass is one of the authors of an article looking at the bioeconomy in south-eastern Spain, published last month.

The article, Bioeconomy as a transforming driver of intensive greenhouse horticulture in SE Spain, appears in the academic journal New Biotechnology. It examines the development of intensive horticulture value-chains towards more sustainable production in the region, driven largely by the development of a circular economy using high-tech models capable of responding to climate-change challenges.

The authors look at how the increased use of bio-based inputs is helping to reduce fossil-fuel dependency within the Mediterranean horticulture sector and how transdisciplinary science is enabling both individuals and institutions to make the changes needed to move to a bioeconomy-based agriculture.

Many of the changes they discuss have been made possible thanks to the publication of the European Strategy of Bioeconomy in 2012, updated and revised in 2018. The policy measures outlined in this strategy with a view to boosting the bioeconomy, have resulted in a large-scale move away from traditional, but now outdated, production systems to more high-tech models capable of responding to climate-change challenges. Key areas of impact relate to managing and creating value from food waste, new inputs based on biotechnological innovations, building clusters of innovative delivery partners within the sector, and the increase in public awareness of the impact of the bioeconomy through socio-economic analysis.

The paper makes the point that: “The connection between science, policy and society is necessary to catalyze the inclusion of bioeconomy in society. It is impossible to develop new markets for new biobased products if consumers neither trust in bioprocesses nor perceive biomass as a safe raw material.”

Richard adds: “The region of Almeria is well known for the intensive production of fresh vegetables in low-tech greenhouses, but has been responding to the challenges of reducing reliance on the use of synthetic pesticides and is now addressing the issues related to developing a sustainable production based on a circular economy value chains. This is an example of how food production levels can be maintained or even increased whilst reducing the environmental footprint as part of the movement towards a net zero carbon future.”

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