Urbani Tartufi: the role of xFarm in the truffle supply chain
The expansion in the use of technology within the agri-food supply chains ecosystems can lead to great innovations.
The increasingly attentive consumers’ demands on one hand, and the increasingly stringent sustainability requirements of institutions on the other, call for all the players in the supply chain to equip themselves with adequate solutions to face these challenges.
xFarm helps companies, cooperatives and associations operating in the agri-food sector in the design and implementation of digital transformation paths through tailor-made solutions.
Recently, we started a close collaboration with the most important truffle producer in Italy and in the world: Urbani Tartufi. With this article we want to introduce the Urbani Tartufi Group and its journey towards the birth of a sustainable, digitalized supply chain in step with the demands of the market and the institutions.
The Urbani Tartufi Group
The Urbani Group boasts a history spanning six generations. In fact, in 1852, a progenitor of the Urbani family, Costantino Urbani, began to sell his own fresh truffles in France. From generation to generation, sales expanded both in Italy and in the European and international market.
To date, the Urbani Tartufi Group – which in the meantime has given life to the Urbani Funghi division and to various other projects including the Truffle Museum and the Truffle Academy – maintains its headquarters in Sant’Anatolia di Narco, in the province of Perugia, where 150 employees work, and has several other offices in Italy and abroad, where it is present as “Urbani Truffles”.
The birth of the truffle supply chain
The Urbani family not only pioneered Italian truffle growing, but also shows entrepreneurial and innovation ambitions: the current generation at the helm of the Urbani Group, with Francesco Loreti Urbani, holds the role of leader of the first truffle supply chain. Through the involvement of local entrepreneurs and farms and thanks to the 2014-2022 rural development plan of the Umbria Region, 400 hectares will be converted to truffle farming. Through Truffleland – the plant nursery company started by the young of the Urbani family, specialized in the production of mycorrhizal plants – aspiring truffle growers can receive advice and support in the start-up of truffle-growing activities and throughout the entire production cycle, with a guarantee of purchase. of the product by Urbani Tartufi. This represents turning point for the entire sector, which will increase the production volume and quality, generating new income and diversification opportunities for farmers.
A supply chain of excellence such as that of truffles requires various precautions: from the use of certified mycorrhizal plants to the careful management of irrigation to achieve an optimal development of the fruiting body of the fungus. xFarm has provided its expertise in order to develop this supply chain, launching a thorough digitalization project. The project aims at the introduction of advanced digital technologies for agronomic management and product traceability.
Challenges of truffle cultivation
The truffle production technique involves the set up of truffle orchards dedicated to truffle cultivation. Truffles are the product of the symbiotic relationship between the ascomycete fungus and the mycorrhizal plant. Therefore, the planting of plants with mycorrhizal roots is the first step for the realization of a truffle plant. Oak (Quercus robur), Holm oak (Quercus ilex) are some of the most common species of symbiotic plants as well as hazel (Corylus avellana), black pine (Pinus nigra) and hop-hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia), while summer truffle (Tuber aestivum) and winter truffle (Tuber melanosporum Vitt.) are among the most famous and requested types of truffle on the market.
With regards to the agronomic management of the plants, particular attention must be given to irrigation: in order for the symbiont plants and the fruiting bodies of truffles to grow and develop correctly, a rigorous control of irrigation is required. Since water is the main input necessary for production, correct and efficient management of irrigation helps maintaining high quality standards, efficiency and environmental sustainability.
xFarm functionalities for irrigation
To support truffle growers, xFarm will provide the xFarm app complete with the irrigation module: through the interpretation of data coming from sensors located in the fields, the decision support system will calculate the irrigation needs and will suggest the best times to irrigate, optimizing the number of interventions and their efficiency. Furthermore, it will be possible to manage the interventions by also establishing activation times of irrigation systems and view the raw data used to calculate the irrigation recommendations, for a global understanding of the irrigation needs of the plots.
Collecting data for better decisions: the Analytics platform
To support companies that are part of the supply chain in adopting increasingly sustainable agricultural practices, xFarm will provide the Analytics platform, that will calculate the environmental and production impact through the use of a range of tailor-made indicators. Furthermore, the platform will be able to suggest the most suitable agronomic interventions in order to reduce the environmental impact. All the stakeholders and technical staff will be able to monitor farms and data from the sensors connected to them in real time. This valuable information on weather trends, yields in all the production sites and activities carried out by farmers, will help the supply chain make better decisions, to reach new standards of efficiency and sustainability.
xFarm for the Agri-food supply chains
For us at xFarm, the birth of a new supply chain is to be considered excellent news: in fact, supply chains are increasingly becoming a reference point for farmers, contributing to the development of the sector, increasing the quality of products and income for producers. Technology can be of great help in this sense, oiling the gears that allow the sharing of information between the different actors and allowing the supply chain leaders and the producers themselves to make data-based decisions, therefore better decisions, benefiting the entire supply chain. The example of the Urbani Tartufi Group demonstrates how it is possible to merge an important family history and tradition with the introduction of new technologies in companies and supply chains.
The xFarm team is available to support large companies, cooperatives, producer associations in the conversion to its digital ecosystem, also through customized solutions.
To find out more about how to start the digital transformation of agricultural supply chains, visit the professional services page of our website.