It is located in central Italy, more precisely in northern Umbria close to the border with Tuscany, which lies in the upper Tiber river valley, 6 kms north of Città di Castello.
The farm occupies just under 88 hectares or 218 acres as a single body of land, divided only by the river Tiber.
The soil type of the area is classified as a medium clay/sand mixture.
All the fields are flat and level, some to the east and some to the west of the Tiber.
The western border of the holding is delineated by the Cerfone river and the north eastern border is defined by the E45 arterial dual carridgeway which runs from Orte to Ravenna.
The farm possesses two groups of houses, occupying about 2000 sq metres of floor space in total, one to the east and one to the west of the Tiber. Outbuildings, barns, sheds etc total approximately 10,000 cubic metres of volume.
Dictated to by the farm's total land surface area, the regional laws allow for a further 4500 square metres of agricultural buildings, as yet unrealised.
Very nearby to the farm (basically forming part of the eastern boundary) is the brand new Interport Logistics Base which itself is positioned between the industrial areas of Città di Castello and San Giustino. It's position is on the intersection of the east-west E78 motorway Grosseto to Fano (under construction) and the E45. The logistics base perimeter road forms the boundary with one of the farm's fields.
300 metres to the north of the farm is a large tobacco drying and curing facility where the leaf gets taken for post-harvest processing. To the right of this facility is a bio digester where natural gas (methane) is produced using various forms of biomass produced on the farm.
The farm's internal road system consists of some "strade communali" which are available for members of the public to use as well as "strade aziendale" for farm use only. The roads are wide and well made up and are capable of handling the heaviest of vehicles.
There are some medium voltage power lines passing above the farm, sub feeds of the high voltage grid system used to transport the power generated at the Montedoglio hydro electric power plant.
Also passing through the property but this time deep underground, are natural gas mains as well as the water mains used for the farms irrigation systems.
The farm's geographic location on the Umbria/Tuscany border is largely what influenced the existence of the farm's tobacco production as since the end of the 16th century, the Upper Tiber valley has been famed for it's ideal tobacco cultivation conditions.
The two types of leaf produced (now outsourced to independent growers using our fields and infrastructure) are Virginia (bright tobacco) which is the principle filler used in cigarette production worldwide and Kentucky, the famous "black" leaf used in the production of the renowned Toscarelli cigars.
The farm has, however, been focusing on the production of wheat, seed corn, maize, seed grade maize, sugar beet, sorghum wheat, onions for seed, sunflower seed, barley, tick beans, alf alfa as well as the experimental cultivation of cannabis sativa for medicinal use.
In 2020 the farm dedicated 20 hectares to the permaculture of hazelnuts for human consumption. Just over 10,000 hazel seedlings were planted, a mixture of Tonda Romana, Nocchione and Griffoni varieties.
The young trees are served by an underground fertigation system (fertigation being the injection of liquid fertilizer into a drip irrigation system) consisting of two parallel supply pipes for each crop row.
The first commercially viable harvest of hazelnuts is forecasted for 2024 and will mostly be sold to Ferrero ( for use in world famous food products such as Nutella), with whom we are contracted as a supplier.
For over ten years we have been engaged in innovative research into more efficient cultivation methods as well as the reduction as far as possible in the use of synthetic based nitrogen fertilizers, concentrating on the use of computer-controlled fertigation specifically to reduce the environmental impact of our farming practices.
THE IRRIGATION AND FERTIGATION SYSTEM
As referred to previously, the farm is equipped with a low pressure, fixed installation sprinkler irrigation system, with sprinklers spaced at 30 metres, over the entire farm.
The system is fed directly by the main supply grid from the Montedoglio dam but can also be supplied at the same time by seven boreholes sited on and owned by the property.
The presence of these two supplies means the farm is reliably self sufficient in irrigation water all year round.
The entire system was comprehensively overhauled and upgraded in 2010, at which time the micro drip fertigation system was added, which allows us to not only optimise the volume of water used but also to micro-target the application of fertiliser to where it is needed in each part of each field. This ensures maximum efficiency of water and fertiliser use with the associated reduction in environmental impact.
The fertigation system consists of approx 70,000 metres (ie 7 kilometres!) of layflat supply pipe feeding low pressure drip spurs spaced at 110 cms. The state-of-the-art Amiad fertigation pump is shown here.
PHOTOVOLTAIC ELECTRIC POWER PRODUCTION
Since the relevant legal declaration in 2006, the generation of electricity from renewable sources such as photovoltaic panels has been declared as an agriculture-related activity.
In 2011 the farm installed ground mounted pv panels and the associated electrical componentry such as inverters etc giving a nominal production of 1 megaWatt (996,024 kilowatts), which in accordance with regional law is the maximum permitted installation size for this category of business.
The system produces clean, renewable electrical energy to the tune of 1,250,000 kiloWatthours (kWh) per annum which is enough to power approximately 450 average households and gives an annual CO2 emission reduction of approx 740 metric tonnes compared with conventional fossel fuel generated electricity.
The production of clean energy such as this forms an integral part of sustaining a cleaner and healthier countryside.
The return on investment is made in part by the feed-in tariffs from GSE, the national power management body, and also renders the farm completely self sufficient in energy production, not only for current needs but also for future developments such as heated greenhouses for fruit and veg production or refridgerated warehousing for agricultural produce etc.
THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE
Public attitudes towards farming have been evolving rapidly of late, as it has come under intense scrutiny for practices perceived as environmentally harmful. As a result, approx three quarters of the world's countries have planned and begun to implement carbon reduction strategies for the agricultural sector.
The innovation of green technologies is being buoyed up by a wave of new investment and, driven by factors such as climate change that requires urgent action, the revolution in renewable energy sources, surging demand for clean and healthy foods, the Green New Deals of the world's major developed economies, agriculture has now been thrust centre-stage in the realisation of these new economic programmes. Programmes not only designed to improve the sustainability of agricultural production but also for the ground-up overhaul of how we view the importance of the long term health of agricultural land, to promote the protection of this vital resource.
With this in mind, farming enterprises such as this one, that are adopting these new practices, are extremely well positioned to take full advantage of the vast amount of subsidies and economic incentives offered by both the Italian government and the European Union.
Currently the farm is essentially run by two employees, expanding where necessary (harvest time etc) to up to 30 part-time employees. Our labour cost are thus kept.
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