Bio-pesticides to cut chemical use on farms
An EU-funded project developed new natural plant pest and disease control products that some farmers are already using on their farms. The aim is to reduce the use of chemicals to protect crops - a benefit for human health and the environment.
© mythja #79431036 2019, source:stock.adobe.com
Chemical pesticides have significantly boosted farm yields and food quality but concerns about their impact on human health and the environment are growing. An EU-funded project worked on redressing the balance between the need for pesticides to control plant pests and diseases and fears about the risks posed by chemicals used in farming.
The INNOVA project developed innovative pest and disease control products known as bio-pesticides, one of which is already available on the market. The products replace the synthetic active agent in chemical pesticides with natural active agents and micro-organisms.
Our innovative bio-based pesticides dramatically minimise the risk of finding chemical residue on food, potentially allaying peoples concerns for their health as well as the environment once they are widely used, says INNOVA project coordinator Ilaria Pertot of the Fondazione Edmund Mach in Italy.
Bio-pesticides on the market
Throughout its four-year duration, INNOVA created:
INNOVA succeeded in registering and commercialising the Trichoderma atroviride strain SC1 under the name of Vintec, and the bio-herbicide called Beloukha. Two other products are under registration: a legume bio-insecticide called Sero-X, and a natural bio-fungicide. All the projects products will soon be available on the market.
Restoring diseased vineyards
From vineyards to apple orchards, INNOVAs products have huge potential benefits. Trichoderma atroviride SC1 can be used to prevent several wood diseases and is now authorised for use on grapevines. In France, some vineyard areas are almost totally infected with trunk diseases, which either kill the vine or produce low-quality wine Trichoderma atroviride SC1 can prevent these diseases. Meanwhile, it is hoped that it will be authorised for use on apple and berry trees.
Trichoderma atroviride SC1 could also protect crops like peppers and strawberries from mould. It can be applied near harvest time since it does not leave any pesticide residue on foods, which is a big advantage for farmers and consumers.
The bio-herbicide Beloukha can replace chemicals in warm and dry conditions. It prevents soil contamination as it is extracted from vegetable oils and degrades quickly. Meanwhile, the natural bio-fungicide and Sero-X are expected to reduce the use of chemical pesticides by up to 50 % on several major food crops, including tomatoes and cucumbers.
The products created by INNOVA are based on natural agents, some of which had already been identified by the scientific community. However, very few have reached the market due to high costs of registration and production compared to conventional chemicals.
INNOVA overcame this hurdle by closing the gap between academic research on bio-pesticides and their active development by the plant protection industry. To achieve this aim, the project successfully exchanged staff working on developing bio-pesticides between academia and industry.
This has resulted in strong collaboration and increased knowledge for both sectors, confirms Pertot.