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From southern Italy to groundbreaking research in Denmark

Davide Cammarano joins as a professor in Environmental Crop Science at the Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University. His journey from Southern Italy, through Australia, USA, and the UK led him to Aarhus University, where his expertise in precision agriculture, crop modeling and climate adaptation fuels pioneering projects. His aim here is to merge research and education while influencing policy decisions for sustainable agricultural development.

Photo: Davide Cammarano

In the sun-kissed landscapes of Southern Italy, Professor Davide Cammarano embarked on his academic journey into agricultural management, environmental science, and precision agriculture. His educational voyage commenced at the University of Basilicata in Potenza.

"I spent five years studying agriculture in Italy," he shares, explaining that after those five years, he acquired national certification as an agronomist, paving the way for a career as an agricultural consultant.

An academic odyssey across continents

The plan to work as an agricultural consultant took a drastic turn when Davide Cammarano received a scholarship for a Ph.D. study in Australia. His destination was the University of Melbourne, where he delved into the intricacies of crop management using digital technologies. This transition proved pivotal, not just for his academic career but also on a personal level, as it was here that he met his wife, soon to be the mother of his two children. Following the completion of his Ph.D., he embarked on a postdoctoral stint at the Queensland University of Technology.

"I stayed in Brisbane for a year and a half, which was the length of the contract. When the opportunity arose to join the University of Florida for a three-year postdoc position, I seized the opportunity," he explains.

After his years in the USA, Davide Cammarano found himself in Scotland at the James Hutton Institute, taking on the role as Principal Investigator. There, he worked on applying his precision agriculture skills on on-farm experimentation, as well as working on climate change impacts on agriculture. However, he then decided to move as an associate professor at Purdue University and returned to the USA to pursue his research within an academic environment. His most recent career move was when he and his family chose to move to Denmark.

"Personally, I was professionally satisfied at Purdue but several factors made me and my family decide to move back in Europe. After a brief stay in Italy, I was offered a position as a professor in Environmental Crop Science at Aarhus University," he shares. Consequently, he and his family relocated to a completely new country. "We really enjoy being here, the children thrive, and Denmark is a great country to live in, especially for families," Davide Cammarano expresses about life in Denmark.

Precision agriculture takes the lead

Discussing Davide Cammarano's research inevitably leads to precision agriculture, a field where his profound interest lies. He has been involved in this research field since the late 90s/early 2000s and has followed its development over the years.

"In my PhD, I focused, among other things, on tools like remote sensing and system-based agronomic models for nitrogen management in wheat in Mediterranean environments. When I later arrived in Florida, I began researching the influence of climate impacts on agriculture and developing adaptation strategies. The University of Florida was also the place where I got to learn more about system-based models (often mistakenly called crop models). In fact, the University of Florida is one of the few places, globally, where there is a strong system-based modeling group" he explains.

In essence, Davide Cammarano combines precision agriculture at the field level with adaptations to changes in climatic conditions throughout the agricultural system.

A new chapter in Denmark with environmental crop science

As a Professor of Environmental Crop Science at the Department of Agroecology, Davide Cammarano merges agronomy, climate, and technology in his research. His work primarily covers systems modelling to address adaptation to climate change and precision agriculture.

His ongoing projects reflect the interdisciplinary nature of his research interests. He now leads a significant new Novo Nordisk project focusing on methods within precision agriculture to limit nitrogen losses.

Another project, Oenotrace (funded by ICT Agri-Food), explores the use of digital agricultural technology in wine production, with a focus on using remote sensing and modeling to improve or maintain wine quality. And a more recent project NSmartSystems aims at supporting farmers with tools for diversifying the farming systems through refining some digital technologies.

Nurturing the next generation of researchers

Davide Cammarano wears several hats, he is a researcher, professor, and mentor.

"I currently have two PhD students, and soon our team will be enriched with a postdoc," he proudly mentions.

He is still settling into the research and teaching landscape at the Department of Agroecology, yet he is already brimming with ideas and plans for the future. "I would like to be involved in developing of and teaching structured courses on precision agriculture, climate change, or system-based modeling at the bachelor's and master's levels," he says. He believes this is the way forward.

"Good teaching is crucial if we want young people to be interested in our field. It's essential for us as teachers and mentors to support young people in their careers so that there will be future researchers and consultants." he shares.

As he navigates through this new phase in Denmark, Davide Cammarano aims to merge his research with teaching, thereby fostering a dynamic and vibrant academic environment.

Davide Cammarano's ambitions extend beyond the academic realms. He hopes his research will have a tangible and direct impact on policy decisions.

"This could especially be in the context of a possible introduction of carbon accounting in Danish agriculture," he says. "My hope is that with my research, I can demonstrate how precision agriculture and system-based modeling can contribute to informed decisions on both economic and and environmental aspects."

Aarhus University appointed Davide Cammarano as a professor in Environmental and Crop Science, effective from January 2021. He will give his inauguration lecture in early 2024. Date, program, and invitation to follow.

More information

Professor Davide Cammarano, Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University. Phone: +45 93522545 or email: davide.cammarano@agro.au.dk