The tree crop nursery sector is going to face big challenges in the near future to meet the increasingly high demand for certified plants, from the genetic and health point of view, suited to very different environmental and growth conditions. To address this high international demand for plant material at sustainable costs, the nursery industry will need new infrastructures and equipment to support more precise management practices. Plant production systems need to be flexible and reliable; lines of plant material should be grown on artificial substrates, since they are low cost and do not harm the environment but should be also able to sustain plant growth in the nursery, improve plant tolerance to long-distance transportation, decrease post-planting stress in the field, ensure food security and environmental and social sustainability.
One big challenge will be to maintain these properties when plants are grown in small containers: the use of small containers would decrease the costs of production and transportation but, at the same time, would increase the occurrence of abiotic and biotic stress. Mycorrhiza technologies, by exploiting natural symbiotic relationships, can increase plants’ tolerance to abiotic stress, the main challenge to plant survival both in the nursery and in the post-planting period in the field.
Tree crop genetic and health certification allows safe international trading, in order to prevent and contrast phytosanitary emergencies, an aspect that is being of strategic relevance at a global level.
The symposium will focus, for the large part, on the above-mentioned aspects.