To make tobacco more sustainable, several aspects have been investigated over the years, e.g.: crop nutrition and protection, water and energy management. Legume cover crops reduce Orobanche infestation, maintain soil OM, and help respect the maximum permitted rate of 74 kg/ha N on tobacco. Liquid or microgranulated fertilizer band and starter application at transplanting have reduced P rates below the maximum permitted rates (40-80 kg/ha P2O5 for normal and poor soils, resp.). No chemical nematicides are generally permitted, so the use of chestnut tannin extracts are spreading as a natural alternative, both in drench water and microirrigation. Recent changes in regulations affecting agrochemicals have excluded the use of toxic rated products, and required sprayers certification for precise use, operator safeguard and minimal risks of dispersion in the environment. Buffer strips along the rivers avoid runoff of agrochemicals and nitrate leaching. Microirrigation is spreading, to reduce water use of 30% on average. Remote measurement of the crop's surface temperature, by hand-held infrared thermometers, calibrated with soil tensiometers, is presently ready for dissemination to field technicians, for precise irrigation (time and volume). Photovoltaics and anaerobic digestion produce renewable energy at FAT processing plant and SU, and new curing barns are reducing curing costs significantly. R&D activity has also realized an integrated agronomic and curing process to reduce agrochemical residues and TSNA in tobacco.
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