July 13, 2015
AquaTEK precision farming project will help make maize production more sustainable (IT/ES)

By Rachel Moore

An excellent product does not always mean an excellent process. Food “made in Italy” is one of the undisputed jewels of the country, but there is ample room for improvement in the fields.

“Italian agriculture, and in particular maize production, is not making full use of the innovations made available by technology,” said Federico Bertoli, the commercial director of Monsanto Italy. Bertoli presented the AquaTEK water conservation project at the Milan EXPO workshop organised by the National Research Council on 1 July at the Italy Pavilion.

The project, focused on water conservation in cropping systems, began in 2013 as a public-private partnership between Monsanto Italy, Netafim and the University of Milan. Its main objective is to increase the productivity of maize per unit of area and per volume of water used.

The AquaTEK project has three components. They are:

  1. Educate – Since 2013, 70 technicians and 7,000 farmers have been trained on or informed of the new, efficient irrigation systems. Those numbers are growing every day.
  2. Decide – Farmers are left to determine when and how much water to use to optimize production costs. New technologies have been developed that measure the soil’s water content via satellite, which makes data more accessible to farmers in the field and allows them to cross-reference the data with weather information.
  3. Conserve – Two years of AquaTEK research shows that the most efficient system for maize production is drip irrigation, which also serves as a system for targeted delivery of fertilizer. During experimentation, water consumption was reduced by 17%, yield increased 27% and energy efficiency increased by 20.2%.

In the primary sector, sustainability means making a wide range of solutions available to help feed our planet – a planet with a population of 10 billion people in 2050 and limited availability of agricultural land due to climate change. This plus a demand for water that grows 2% every year leads to a global need for more solutions to water sourcing.

foto To combat these challenges, the project aims to raise the quality of maize per unit, cut energy consumption and efficiently manage water use. It’s a step towards completely sustainable agriculture, which is an important element of Monsanto’s mission. It’s why we allocate more than 11% of turnover (USD 15.9 billion) a year to research and development.

“Monsanto’s commitment is to make the production of maize in Italy fully sustainable from an economic, environmental and social perspective,” Bertoli said. We know that we cannot face these important challenges alone, hence why we try to find and support partnerships with the private sector and public bodies. To learn more about our mission, visit

The full AquaTEK ™ press release for the conference is available in English and Italian. For the Spanish translation, please visit Monsanto Spain’s blog, Hablando Claro.

You can also see videos about the AquaTEK project in several languages on our YouTube channel.


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