The Mediterranean food system is largely based on the production and consumption of different kinds of cereals. Amongst the many food commodities made out of cereals, one of the most important is pasta.
All over the world, pasta is synonymous with Italian cuisine. Despite being originally solely part of the Italian – and later European – culinary tradition, pasta has crossed international borders to become a very popular and even staple form of food in many parts of the globe.
The worldwide production of pasta amounts to roughly fifteen thousand tonnes per year, with Italy still being the major producer, followed by the United States.
Pasta comes in many different shapes and can be prepared in a variety of a ways, but it is always obtained through the processing of durum wheat(durmis the Latin word for “hard”). This kind of wheat was created through artificial selection and is characterized by larger grains than those of the other types of wheat, and a yellow endosperm, which gives pasta its colour.
Durum wheat yield and quality (e. g. standard weight and protein content) are strongly affected by weather conditions.
It is also well known that nitrogen fertilizers are an important component in the calculation of air emissions – greenhouse gases – and that such emissions are much lower when nitrogen fertilizers show greater efficiency. For example, at the end of rainy winters favouring nitrogen loss by leach into the ground water, plants are strongly stressed, because of lack of nutrients. The amount of nitrogen fertilizer, the source of the nitrogen (urea, ammonium nitrate, nitrogen slow release and use of inhibitors, etc.) and distribution schedules, can therefore be radically different in relation to seasonal weather.
Currently, producers have no access to information that can support the optimal use of fertilizers in their farming activities. The most important ambition of MED-GOLD for the durum wheat climate service pilot is to provide, for the first time, critical information supporting the definition of the most adequate fertilization strategy for each specific crop situation.
Questions MED-GOLD will address