Agroecology-inspired strategies and tools to enhance resilience and ecosystem services in tomato crop (ASTER)


Abstract: Tomato is a key crop worldwide, particularly in the Mediterranean Basin. Its market
value in the EU represents about 7 billion euros. Tomato can be grown in open fields or
protected conditions, and short or long production periods can be possible due to the large
availability of commercial varieties. Regardless of the type of cultivation or the duration of the cycle, increasing quantities of external inputs (pesticides, fertilisers, herbicides) are required to cope with i) nutrition issues linked to the deployment of the soil, ii) resident and invasive species made more aggressive by the climatic change and the development of pesticide resistance; iii) water limitation which is more critical in arid and semi-arid climates of the Mediterranean area due to climatic change. The PRIMA project “ASTER” aims to build up a management model for small tomato producers of the Mediterranean Basin based on the
application of main agroecology principles such as (i) the conservation and the enhancement of functional biodiversity both above and belowground, to increase and exploit the ecosystem
services (protection, nutrition, pollination) in alternative to the use of external synthetic inputs; (ii) the sustainable control of main pests and pathogens to reduce the environmental impact of plant protection practices; (iii) the circularity of the production chain to approach the “zero waste” objective. ASTER will improve the tomato resilience in the economy of all
Mediterranean Basin countries where it can be grown in open fields or protected systems,
during the entire annual season, particularly in small farms.

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