Traditional farming, with a twist
by Steven Tagle, Content Creator, New Agriculture for a New Generation

Meet Petros

Dr. Petros Vahamidis, 39, from Athens, completed his PhD at the Agricultural University of Athens (AUA) in 2013. He studied in the Department of Plant Production and specialized in field crops. The main objective of his research is to develop alternative solutions for traditional agricultural practices in order to use resources more efficiently and increase crop productivity, quality, and sustainability. Regarding medicinal and aromatic plants, his research focuses on weed management and the optimization of fertilization and irrigation techniques. He has been working as a scientific collaborator at AUA since 2013. In the “New Agriculture for a New Generation” program, he teaches weed management and fertilization practices in medicinal and aromatic plants.

“I wanted to become either an agronomist or a civil engineer, but life ultimately led me to serve agriculture, which I’m very proud of,” Petros said. “Agricultural science is a dynamic biological science. You learn something new every day, so every day is a challenge.” Petros loves teaching and problem solving. He dreams of being able to work as an agronomist with consistency and productivity for as long as possible.

By participating in a number of research programs, Petros has been able to travel to many different parts of Greece. He has met with farmers from all over the country, and they have learned from each other. “One of the things I love about this job is that I meet new people and am exposed to new ways of thinking. While many farmers have not pursued higher education, they are practical and innovative,” he said. “When you go into the fields, you learn the real problems that producers face. Then you return to the university and try to find solutions.”

The Malt Barley Project

“In 2013, I began researching malt barley as part of a collaboration between AUA professors Economou and Derka and the Athenian Brewery, where we introduced malt barley into Greece. Until 2008, there was no cultivation of malt barley in Greece. Malt barley is quite different from the barley used to feed animals. We used to grow feed barley in fields with low fertility, which can not be done with the malt barley varieties we examined. From the beginning of the program until today, our research team has evaluated over 30 modern varieties of malt barley. Choosing and cultivating the barley best suited to Greek conditions over the last 7 years has led to an increase in yields of 30 kg per stremata per year. From the early stages of our collaboration with Athenian Brewery, it became clear that in order to substantially improve the quantity and quality of malt barley, using high-yield varieties alone was not sufficient. For the last 7 years, we have been doing intensive experiments aimed at improving the cultivation technique for malt barley.”