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High quality and nutrient rich food through crop waste-derived biostimulant and biopesticide

Introduction

It is generally accepted that the wide-scale use of persistent synthetic pesticides in agriculture is a major risk to biodiversity and the environment. In addition, the public view of pesticides as problematic and seeks pesticide-free products. Addressing these concerns poses an important challenge for farmers to find a sustainable balance between "environmentally-friendly" and "profitable" crop production.  

To match the concerns of the farmers and consumers, we need to create innovative solutions to secure crop yield, to minimise food and crop wastes and to produce vegetables and fruits with health-promoting properties.  

The Bio4Food project addresses these three problems following a strategy of crop waste valorisation. We are proposing to take advantage of the presence of secondary metabolites, including natural defence molecules in crop wastes generated at the farm and at the food-processing factory and transform these into new types of biostimulants and biopesticides. Biostimulants and biopesticides are eco-friendly products that have the capacity to improve plant health, to enhance tolerance to abiotic stresses (climate change), and to promote crop yield and crop quality (i.e., presence of health beneficial minerals).

 

Background

Numerous studies show that a significant amount of the synthetic fertilizers and pesticides used on farmland during current agricultural practices, have considerable negative effects on the environment and human well-being. These generally accepted facts have raised public concern and have motivated researchers, farmers, and consumers to get actively involved into seeking for innovative alternatives. To reduce the environmental impact of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, while securing crop yield and consumers safety, several alternative and sustainable products are presently available in the market. Nevertheless, this is still insufficient, new, renewable, sustainable, and eco-friendly products need to be discovered. Bio4Food addresses this problem by proposing a strategy of crop waste valorisation.

 

Main project activities

Bio4Food will exploit the biostimulatory properties to promote plant yield and quality, aiming to increase the content of the health-promoting minerals, iron, magnesium and zinc, in vegetable and fruit crops. The socio-economic acceptance of our approach and the market opportunities will be studied to develop a road map for the implementation of bio-based methodology for crop production and protection. The possibility to recycle waste will be evaluated at the level of the farm up to the food processing industry, taking into account the profitability of the technology. Bio4Food will contribute to the reduction in crop waste, providing natural plant protection products, and offer consumers vegetables rich in health-promoting minerals. The socio-economic acceptance of our approach and the market opportunities will be studied to develop a road map for the implementation of a bio-based methodology for crop production and protection. The possibility to recycle waste will be evaluated at the level of the farm up to the food processing industry, taking into account the profitability of the technology.

Consequently, through its strategy, Bio4Food:

  1. creates added value for the otherwise wasted biomass,
  2. provides natural plant protecting and heath promoting products, and
  3. adheres to the concept of circular economy and zero waste. 

bio4food

Expected results

Bio4Food will contribute to the reduction in crop waste, providing natural plant protection products, and offer consumers vegetables rich in health-promoting minerals.

 

Keywords

Organic waste stream recycling, sustainable agriculture and horticulture, plant extracts, nutrient uptake efficiency, rhizosphere microbiome, biostimulants and biopesticides 

 

Project consortium

Coordinated by:

  • Danny Geelen - Ghent University/Fac of Bioscience Engineering/Horticell lab - Belgium

Partners:

  • Consiglio per la ricerca in agricoltura e l’analisi dell’economia agraria, (CREA)(IT); 
  • Abdelmalek Essaadi University, Faculty of Sciences and Techniques of Tangier (FSTT) (MO); 
  • CICERO Center for International Climate Research, (NO); 
  • Institute for Food and Environmental Research, (ILU) (DE); 
  • Ajinomoto Omnichem, (BE) 

 

More information

Project website: Connect via www.HortiCell.ugent.be

Social media: Linkedin: Horticell

 

Presentations

Kick-off project meeting - February 2021