The NCF Group is working in applied and basic research, to extend self life and quality of horticultural products, with special emphasis on the mitigation of physiological alterations. We develop new foliar fertilization strategies, characterizing the influence of the treatments on the morphology of tissues and foliar surfaces (SEM, TEM, histology) and their physical-chemical and biochemical properties. The group has strong links with crop production and fertilizer companies and this collaboration with the chemical and agricultural sectors has allowed the implementation of sustainable agronomic strategies.
Another line of growing importance as a result of public-private collaboration is the validation of new biobased and biodegradable materials in agriculture, the LIFE + Multibiosol project and the Agrobiosol Suprautonomic Group are examples of success that have passed the proof of concept.
The objective is to introduce new technologies for the horticultural industry, increase the quality of the commodities through sustainable production techniques, environmentally friendly and competitive. Our studies aim to optimize the physiological processes that regulate the productivity and quality characteristics of deciduous fruit trees, following a holistic approach. Thus, the basic aspects of water and nutrient absorption, distribution and physiological function of nutrients in the plant are being investigated, in parallel with the development of rational cultural strategies that ensure yield, quality and economic profitability, minimizing the environmental impact. In summary, new technologies are being developed in collaboration with actors from the agricultural and scientific scene.
Specifically, they consist of:
- Develop agronomic techniques to improve fruit quality, especially through public-private partnerships.
- Study calcium metabolism in fruit trees and vegetables to develop foliar fertilization strategies
- Apply the postharvest physical treatments developed by the group to reduce the incidence of physiopathies (apple and peach)
- Study fruit proteomics and the affected areas by disorders and its relationship with the fruit allergens.
- Contribute to the implementation of new biobased and biodegradable plastic materials in fruit and vegetable production (mulching and bagging of fruit).
- Optimize cherry production by preventing alterations due to rain, manipulation and other abiotic stresses.
- Optimize peach production by combining Controlled Deficit Irrigation, calcium treatments and monitoring by sensors in soil and plant and multispectral aerial images.
This group consisted on a Tenured Scientist a bachelor in agriculture (Ing Tec. Agrícola) and two hired technicians, a Technical Engineer, supported by a PIE and an auxiliary technician for laboratory and field. It is foreseen for the end of 2019 and 2020 to hire a senior graduate from a Retos de Colaboriación project already granted.
The activities of the Group are aimed to carrying out applied research in a scientific niche of high agronomic importance, as described in the objectives. In addition, the line of work in proteomics (fruit allergens) supported by the doctoral thesis work of M. Krawitzky has an important implication in human health.
The synergy with other teams of the University of Zaragoza and the EEAD itself could allow to continue the research activity and address new challenges of public-private calls aimed at solving pressing problems of Spanish agriculture. It is expected to obtain funding for the study and mitigation of the physiological alterations of the late peach, the cracking of the cherry and those traditionally associated with the culture of apples and quince.