The NUTRITEC project aims to create an integrated set of products and processes for the durum wheat supply chain, including:
a) the selection of genotypes of durum wheat with a high content of vitamins, carotenoids, anthocyanins, fibers, proteins and with a high gluten index;
b) the development of precision farming techniques that allow the optimization of inputs and production stabilization;
c) the development of new crops such as lupine with no bitter factors and also suitable for medium alkaline soils, to be put into rotation for the benefit of cultivation technique and economic return;
d) new semolina for the production of pasta and bakery products with high nutraceutical value.
The combination of these genotypes, protocols and processes will guarantee the producers of southern Italy greater stability in production and their quality, reducing the great variability of the quality and prices of Italian wheat, and creating a certified chain “Made in Italy” .
The durum wheat chain is particularly relevant as well as strategic in central and southern Italy, especially in the Marche and Puglia regions. The main purpose of NUTRITEC concerns the acquisition of experimental results useful for the genetic improvement of wheat due to its nutritional characteristics, food safety and agronomic and economic sustainability through the introduction of a new species capable of facilitating the rotation and providing at the same time an important nutraceutical contribution in the constitution of new semolina suitable for the production of pasta and bakery products with an added health value. The achievement of these objectives will lead to an improvement in the overall sustainability of wheat cultivation through less use of chemicals, a higher level of food security and the creation of new highly functional and healthy foods. To pursue the objectives indicated through the acquisition of genetic-molecular and phenotypic data, we will identify genome loci characterized by the presence of genes to introduce important nutraceutical characteristics. The information acquired will be used for the establishment and supply of new varieties – and new protocols for their cultivation and transformation – with clearly superior health and technological characteristics.
The productive sustainability of wheat increasingly depends on the genetic capacity adaptive to the cultivation environment and the increasingly efficient agronomic techniques, therefore it is essential to select a genotype that is highly adaptable to the reference environment and the possibility of applying suitable rotations and agronomic plans. targeted; moreover the commercial outlet and the evaluation in terms of price is a further fundamental element to reach such sustainability. The possibility of having innovative processed products with high added value in the field of health and the prevention of some chronic degenerative diseases represents an excellent outlet for the economic plant of durum wheat production. Among the possible innovations at the nutraceutical level, certainly an enrichment in the concentrations of the share of carotenoids (lutein and b-carotene) are a very important factor to consider from a health point of view, together with the presence of anthocyanins and a value of soluble fibers that represent a further plus of the product. If then to the semolina obtained in this way, the possibility of integrating proteins and other functional elements deriving from a legume is added (in our case an extremely innovative lupine due to the absence of bitter principles), which is also suitable for improving the cultivation technique and having itself a significant economic margin, the entire production plant becomes extremely efficient. An additional problem stemmed from the need to optimize the application of nitrogen. By using a precession with a legume, a portion of nitrogen to be applied to the soil would be spared. In fact, the project foresees the monitoring and testing of the development of the culture through evaluation with thermal cameras applied on drone for monitoring the development of the crop, and assessing the advantage of rotation through lupine.
The sustainability of durum wheat cultivation in southern Italy requires, on the one hand, the development of productive varieties, improved in terms of efficiency of utilization of nitrogen resources, resistance to the main pathologies, a good protein content, together with an enrichment of carotenoids, of anthocyanins and fibers in general. On the other hand, the production of processed products, such as pasta and bakery products with a high nutraceutical value, constitute a complete package, developed by NUTRITEC, which will enable southern Italian farmers to compete effectively, in terms of income, with other crops more remunerative, which in these areas, due to the pedoclimatic conditions would not have the same remunerative efficiency. The great advantage will also be the development of new products with high nutritional value, which will have a strong impact on public health.