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SYNERGY, Quality and respect for environment (SINERGIA)
Start date: Sep 1, 2003, End date: Jun 1, 2006 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Background The recent intensification of agricultural production has led to a deterioration of the environment in some regions and a decrease in the quality of products. The impacts on the environment mainly relate to contamination problems linked to overuse of phytosanitary treatment. Intensive farming leads to problems such as erosion, high water consumption, generation of a high volume of waste, etc. A perfect example of the impacts of intensive farming is the wine sector in La Rioja. More than 26% (i.e. 42,181 Ha) of the cultivable area of this region is covered by vineyards. With a business volume of more than 200 million euros per year, the vitiviniculture sector accounts for 46% of the agricultural production of the region. An increase in the production of wine has lead to contamination which, due to the size of the sector, has had significant impacts at a regional level. This problem of environmental degradation and contamination is common to all the Spanish wine producing regions and many other Europeans regions. Objectives The objectives of the SYNERGY project were as follows: - To produce and elaborate quality agricultural products in an environmentally friendly way. - To take advantage of synergies by the application of different structural funds in the wine sector. - To integrate environmental and quality aspects in the vitiviniculture sector within the framework of sustainable development as well as apply integrated production policies. - To highlight a procedure to carry out a wine life cycle analysis which could be exported to other products and other regions. Results On the whole the SINERGIA project has been successful in meeting the objectives set at the outset and has established the basis for an environmentally friendly production system for vitiviniculture in La Rioja as well as work practices that can be implemented in other sectors and regions of the EU. Valuable methodology has been designed and validated and quality tools have been produced. The dissemination and educational activities have been successful. The environmental and economic benefits of the project are potentially high in the medium to long term. The project has been cost-effective, 92% of the budget was spent. The main results were as follows: - Definition of technical best practices for environmentally friendly production in vitiviniculture, based on the analysis of their environmental, technical and economic viability. This work enabled the elaboration of a Model for environmentally friendly wine production. These practices have been included in various manuals, with recommendations for each practice. Some of the practices were tested in various farms and wineries as well as the research and experimental centre of the beneficiary. - Design and validation of a System of Control and Certification which sets up the mechanisms for compliance with the production model defined during the project. However, the development of the control system and label which guarantees the origin of the product was not as effective as planned due to limitations related to the legal framework in Spain. Nevertheless, the work done has been valuable and has permitted to set the basis for integrating such a system into the national regulations. - A completely innovative harvest prototype was developed that allows for on site destemming, storage and transport of grapes, leading to energy consumption reduction, improvement of soil structure, reduction of waste production, etc. The technical viability of this prototype was demonstrated successfully, however its application is only suitable and economically viable in specific conditions such as: a small area to be harvested, ground adapted for the use of the prototype, etc. The Dosibot machine for sulphide application that was tested during the project is a further demonstration component of the project: positive environmental results were obtained, as well as better wine quality. - The Life cycle analysis of wine permitted the identification of the most significant impacts of the wine production process, such as the consumption of energy and materials, chemical products use, etc. - Training was a key element for transmitting the know-how generated during the development of the project and making the various entities involved aware of the environmental implications. A training programme was designed and the valuable training material was produced. One noteworthy initiative has been the on-line course organised to facilitate access to the training programme. - The dissemination results obtained have exceeded what was foreseen at regional, national and European level. The dissemination activities have encouraged a high level of interest among the different groups and stakeholders of the wine sector at regional scale. The number of events and participants exceeded the initial expectations. The website, available in three languages ( was an effective means of dissemination and was expected to be maintained after conclusion of the project. Overall, more than 30 publications were produced: all the material is of good quality and can be cited as "good examples" of dissemination products for LIFE projects. - The management structure created for the project, with various working groups proved to be efficient throughout the duration of the project and has contributed significantly to good internal communication and the participation and involvement of the different participating entities. In addition, the collaboration of well known wine companies and farmers, the participation of qualified and expert staff, and the wide use of various communication channels for dissemination of the project are factors that have undoubtedly contributed positively to the success of this project. It is a good example of effective management of European projects. - The project led to the generation of employment as it was necessary to contract specialist technicians and external companies for the implementation of the measures developed in this project such as the application of new techniques of harvesting, treatments, and irrigation control. From the implementation of the project it was expected that this direct employment would continue after the end of the project. However, no information has been given about this issue. - In economic terms, the project permitted to demonstrate that through the model designed it is technically and economically feasible to obtain high quality grapes, hence generating important commercial margins. Ideally, the use of the Best Practices can be expected to be a differentiating factor making the final product (wine) more competitive, by combining quality and respect for the environment. As a conclusion, it could be said that the benefits and repercussions of the results achieved through the SINERGIA project will only be assessed with time, and will depend to a large extent on the level of application of the best practices and the development of regulations which will give official backing to the system of certification and to the label created through the project. At the time of writing, the practices defined had not been approved through legislative procedures and the certification system had no legal value.
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