The Strategic Cluster CITACA (Agri-food Research and Transfer Cluster, Campus da Auga), was created as a bottom-up initiative from one of the R&D multiclusters in the Campus da Auga: Cluster 1 “Food, Environment and ICT”, which unites several groups from the Faculty of Sciences in the Campus of Ourense of the University of Vigo (AA1, BV1, EQ4, EQ11), which had collaborated in the last years within the specialization area of food and environment in different research activities related with agricultural soils, food processing industry, valuing of by-products from this activity and with quality and food safety, and the group from the School of Computer Engineering LIA2 which, from the specialization area of the ICT also performs collaborative works with some of the researches of the previous groups.
The specialization of the Campus of Ourense as Campus da Auga made clear that it was necessary to give water a fundamental value as centre line for all the activities, both because of its importance for the crops and food elaboration and because of the polluting effect of these activities on the quality of natural water due to the nutrients and phytosanitary products infiltration phenomena through soil to groundwater and through the dumping of effluents from the transformation industry into the rivers. It was then decided to complete the production cycle (from farm to work), including two new groups from the Faculty of Biology from the University of Vigo which research the biological interactions in the agroecosystems (BVE1) and the biotechnology and plant production (BV6), and to focus the study in all the production stages relating with water and considering the two aspects mentioned: the quality of the water used and the conservation of the resources.
Following the Strategic Research 2016-2020 from the Spanish Water Technological Platform and its Work Group GT2: Water in agriculture and water-energy binomial, the principle “More food and more safety and quality for each water drop” was adopted, as an ultimate goal to be followed and incorporated within the two research goals of the cluster along the whole chain focusing on the following aspects:
- The role of the agricultural soils in the water protection, conservation and purification in the context of a mainly conventional agriculture and of agricultural valuation of by-products and potentially polluting effluents.
- Agronomic research for the reduction of water requirements and of potentially polluting agricultural inputs.
- Optimisation of raw materials use in the food processing, including the valuing of by-products and design of food and ingredients of higher nutritional, organoleptic and functional quality which, at the same time, contribute to the development, diversification and sustainability of the food industry.
- Safe reusing of by-products and wastewaters as agricultural inputs for the primary production.