For the whole of the last century, indigo was supplied as the synthetic product derived from fossil feedstocks. Previously, indigo had come from crops grown by farmers all over the world. The current European market for indigo amounts to 8 000 tonnes per annum, which is supplied entirely by synthetic means.
The project aims to introduce indigo-producing crops into European agriculture, to the long-term benefit of the rural sector and the environment. By 2005, the project aim is that at least 5% of the European market is met by natural indigo with a purity of more than 90%, grown on 20 000 hectares providing the rural sector with an income of at least €32 million per annum. The project will provide seeds and an agronomic blueprint for farmers; identify from among three different crops the best for the different European regions; on-farm technologies for indigo extraction and purification; DIN dyeing standards of the product; and an environmental impact assessment. The multidisciplinary team is vertically integrated, drawing on the leading academic and commercial (SME) players from the whole production chain.
1) Appropriate indigo-producing crops were identified for particular regions.
2) A mobile, simple-to-operate, continuous-feed, farm-based equipment was developed for the extraction of indigo from the harvested leaves. The novel biotechnology was declared impractical but 90% purity was achieved by other means.
3) Standardisation and quality control of the natural indigo product was achieved, as was the standardisation of the crop to improve yields.
4) However, the overall aim was not attained due to a lack of sufficient commercial demand from the textile industry, and technical problems with the extraction which lead to a significant proportion of the potential indigo present in the crop not being recovered. This lead to lower final yields, lower purity, and high unit costs of the product.
CAP AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT
Scientist responsible for the project
Professor PHILIP JOHN
Whiteknights Box 221
RG6 6AS Reading
United Kingdom (The) - GB
Phone: +44 118 931 8098
Fax: +44 118 931 6577
||The University of Reading
||01 January 2001
||3 587 682 €
|Total EC contribution
||2 808 469 €
|Web address of the project
- University of Pisa-Dipartimento di Agronomia e Gestione dell'agrocosistema, Italy - IT
- LIVOS Pflanzenchemie Forschungs- und Entwicklungs-GmbH & Co.KG, Germany - DE
- GORHAM & BATESON (AGRICULTURE) LIMITED [up to 31 October 2002], United Kingdom (The) - GB