The Legnaro Research Unit of the Institute of Agro-environmental and Forest Biology was founded in 1973 at the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Padova as the “Herbicide Research Centre”, and in 1993 renamed “Research Centre for Weed Biology and Management” (CeBI). The RU is still housed at the DAFNAE Department of the University of Padova.
The research activity was initially centred on the optimization of herbicide use, weed-crop competition, weed biology and evolution in relation to herbicide use. Since the 1990s, research has widened to the study of weed resistance to herbicides, the environmental fate of herbicides, the mitigation of their environmental effects and the development of prediction and management models of weed infestations. In the last decade, the RU has been intensely focussed on two European projects of Integrated Pest Management (IPM): the “Network of Excellence” ENDURE (European Network for the Durable Exploitation of Crop Protection Strategies) and the “Large Collaborative Research Project” PURE (Pesticide Use-and-Risk Reduction). These projects aim at improving the transfer of knowledge and information to farmers and decision makers at national and regional level.
The aim of the research activities is to improve the sustainability of weed management through a reduction in the use and environmental risk of herbicides. Another branch of the research regards ethnobotany and phytoalimurgy, for the promotion of wild food plants and conservation of biodiversity.
The Legnaro RU is nowadays a national and international point of reference for the study of weeds and their management. The personnel consists of five CNR researchers, three post-docs, one post-graduate, an external consultant for the management of the European projects and an administrative secretary. In addition, five members of the university staff and one from Veneto Agricoltura collaborate as “associates”.