Timac Agro (Group Roullier) and the University of Navarra have signed an agreement for creating the Cathedra Timac Agro-University of Navarra, which will involve an investment of 1.5 million euro on researching with the purpose of foreseeing the effects of climate change on plants growth in order to create new environmentally friendly models.

The new unity of research will focus on three basic areas: the optimization of plant mineral nutrition, the improvement of plant development under stress conditions, and the recycling of agronomical and urban wastes. In the first case, the scientific team is already working on nitrogen fertilizers of high efficiency to be applied on horticultural and cereal crops, with the purpose of increasing final crop yields while reducing negative impacts: "if we achieve an improvement in nitrogen use efficiency in plants, we will reduce nitrate content in shoot and fruits, at the same time as protein content and plant nutritional value will increase", José María García-Mina, Full Professor of Agricultural Chemistry and Soil Science, and director of the team, points out.

Another Project of the team is related to the genes involved on natural responses of plants in the stress conditions promoted by climate change, such as drought or salinity of water irrigation, that can affect plant yield. "Once the plant genes that protect plants are identified, our aim, along with Timac Agro, is to identify the natural molecules that control those genes", the director of the Cathedra explains.

Citrus yields decreased by 40 % this summer

"Climate conditions become so important that this summer in the Spanish east, the increase of temperatures have caused a decrease of 30-40 % of citric yields, and around 10-20 % of cereal yields in the best areas of our country", the experts remembers.

The researchers of the new Cathedra Timac Agro-University of Navarra have presented more than 45 patents in environment and agricultural chemistry area during their careers, and have published more than 120 articles in scientific journals. "The objective is to add the knowledge of a European enterprise that is committed to RD, like Timac Agro, to all the synergies that can emerge among all the departments of the University", the full professor José María García-Mina underline. The length of this agreement is of five years, automatically extendable, and it includes the financing of a doctorate grant in this area.

By Laura Juampérez

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