CRA-RIS was first born in Vercelli on 1908 as “Stazione sperimentale di Risicoltura e delle Coltivazioni irrigue”, promoted by the “Associazioni fra gli agricoltori di Novara e Vercelli e l’Associazione d’irrigazione dell’Agro all’Ovest del Sesia”. It was first established in the town of Vercelli, while in the 1932 the research activity was transferred to the Cascina Boraso, on the road to Torino, where the new research station was built in an area of rice experimental fields comprising a surface of about 30 ha. The farmhouse Boraso, located on the side of the current CRA-RIS, represents an important example of XIX century farmhouse. The “Stazione sperimentale” carried out its activity as an independent research institution until 1967 then, with the creation of the Experimental Institutes of the Ministry of Agricolture, became Section for rice culture of the Experimental Institute for Cereal Research. In 2007, following the CRA internal re-organization, the section was transformed into the “Rice research unit” (CRA-RIS).
The main research activities of CRA-RIS are including both applied and basal research with the following topics:
- germplasm selection for adaptation to the Italian rice cultivation areas;
- breeding for cultivar development focused on yield and qualità of the final product;
- evaluation of agronomic practices for sustainable agricolture;
- analytical procedures for determination of qualità parameters;
- identification of genes for blast resistance and MAS for known Pi blast resistance genes;
- breeding and germplasm evaluation for rice genotypes adapted to water management systems involving water-saving procedures.
A collection of rice germplasm in which more than 400 different rice genotypes coming from Italy, Europe and several rice cultivation areas of the word is maintained at CRA-RIS and its characterization for several traits of agronomical importance is currently underway. CRA-RIS research activity is carried out in collaboration with other CRA research unite and centers including CRA-SCV of Sant’Angelo Lodigiano (LO), CRA-PAV of Rome and with CRA-GPG of Fiorenzuola D’Arda (PC). Furthermore, CRA-RIS collaborate with the Rice genomics research group of the Fondazione Parco Tecnologico Padano in Lodi and with other international research institutions.