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In the present global situation, agriculture plays a major role in the interaction between socio-economic and biophysical processes. In addition to its principal and fundamental role of providing food, it now also needs to consider other ecosystem services provided by agriculture and to explore the new frontiers for the the future. In the 50’s of the 20th century the major topic was the introduction of inorganic fertilizers, in the 60’s the use of synthetic compounds for plant protection (insecticides, herbicides, fungicides), in the 70’s industrial crops, in the 80’s organic farming and the environmental impact of agronomic practices, and in the 90’s genetically modified crops (herbicide tolerance, insect resistance). In the current decade the themes are: land and water degradation, the production of agricultural biomass for bio-energy, and the increased expression of functional compounds in crops. The Bologna X Congress of ESA “Multi-functional Agriculture - Agriculture as a Resource for Energy and Environmental Preservation”, will meet the needs of finding tools to deal with environmental problems coupled with the increasing demand for food, and filling the knowledge gap on the physiological relationships between functional compound bio-synthesis and agricultural practices. Members of the European Society for Agronomy already have a deep knowledge of these issues, and the Bologna ESA Congress will provide an opportunity to develop them further particularly in regard to innovative agricultural techniques, new energy sources and better environmental monitoring.
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