The origins of the Research Unit for Agropastoral Systems of the Central Apennines (CRA-APC) date back to the first years of XX century. It was found with law n. 292 of June 6, 1907 as “Royal Wheat Growing Research Centre” and directed by Prof. Nazareno Strampelli until the period of his death (1942). It was for more than thirty years the research centre more famous and productive for the studies about the genetic improvement of the wheat. The wheat varieties realized at the Royal Research Centre brought the production from about 10 q/ha in the years immediately after the First World War to about 15 q/ha in those immediately before the Second World War, making possible the success of the “wheat battle”. Among the wheat varieties which were created one can remember those of greater success: Carlotta, Gregorio Mendel, Apulia, Dauno, Varrone, Ardito, Villa Glori, Mentana, Virgilio, Terminillo, Senatore Cappelli, San Pastore. Up till now the variety Senatore Cappelli is grown in Italy over a few tens of hectares for the production of pasta of a particular quality and genetic heredities of the wheats “Strampelli” are present in a lots of wheats grown in China. After the death of his founder the Centre of Rieti lost a large part of its propulsive dynamics until being only seat of reproduction of wheats created at the National Institute for Cereal Genetics in Rome. Following on DPR 1318/67 the Research Centre of Rieti joined, but only since 1979, the “Research Institute for the Study and Conservation of the Soil” of Florence, as “Peripheral Operative Section of Soil Mineralogy” in a first time, and afterwards as “POS of Soil Conservation”. To the researches aimed to create new varieties of wheat it is succeeded the study of the soils in order to recognize their genesis, cartography, physical and chemical conservation and suitability to support specific cultivations. Following to the reform of the IRSA (Research and Agrarian Experimentation Institutes) and the establishment of the CRA (Agricultural Research Council) in 2004, the seat of Rieti has assumed the new denomination and the new mission, keeping and partly putting to good use the previous competences.
The lines of research in the last 30 years, since the DPR 1318/67 assigned the structures of Rieti to the ex I.S.S.D.S. (Research Institute for the Study and Conservation of the Soil), have concerned the following topics, some of which still continue:
- Recognition, characterization, classification and genesis of the soils
- Soil Mapping
- Evaluation of soil suitability for specific, agricultural and non agricultural purposes
- Definition of soil qualities which are suitable to cultivation of truffles
- Study of erosive models in different practices of agricultural soil management
- Effects on soil and production deriving from different models of soil tillage
- Effects on soil and production linked to the spreading of olive mill wastewaters and different composts
- Influence of the soil type and soil organic matter on the toxicity of herbicides and biomass of recycling (various composts and olive waste waters) against cultivated plants- Monitoring of the soil pollution by heavy metals.