LIFE Project Cover Photo

Environmentally friendly biomolecules from agricultural wastes as substitutes of pesticides for plant diseases control

Reference: LIFE13 ENV/IT/000461 | Acronym: LIFE EVERGREEN

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

BACKGROUND

Plant diseases caused by bacteria and nematodes often result in sudden and devastating financial losses to farmers, and are extremely difficult to control. Similarly, plant-parasitic nematodes are responsible for heavy crop losses (up to 12%) and the diseases they cause are difficult to control.

Traditionally, nematode-related diseases have been managed with the utilisation of plant resistance, crop rotation, biological control, and cultural practices. However, farmers have always preferred using pesticides, which can have severe environmental effects.

Presently, most nematicides are not included among the labelled agrochemicals for crops under good agricultural practices because they belong to high-risk classes. Moreover, the development of resistance phenomena and the potential for adverse ecological impact from nematicides creates a continuous need for new products and alternative control strategies for these plant parasites.


OBJECTIVES

The main goal of the LIFE EVERGREEN project was to demonstrate the efficacy and reliability of polyphenol-based biomolecules recovered from agricultural non-food biomass and wastes as disease control products against phytopathogenic bacteria and nematodes affecting plants and crops.

In this way, it aimed to demonstrate an eco-friendly, cost-effective and integrated approach for the control of bacterial and nematode diseases of plants that would enable the replacement of currently used commercial pesticides and the application of copper salts in conventional and organic agriculture and provide a sustainable use for agricultural plant biomass and waste as a source for new bioactive compounds.

Planned activities were to:

  • Use polyphenol-based molecules extracted from agricultural plant biomass and by-products for the control of bacterial and nematode diseases of crops in the lab;
  • Optimise specific polyphenolic formulations against several plant pathogenic bacteria and nematodes; and
  • Conduct trials to optimise field treatments on several plants and crops having a high commercial value, which will be used as models (e.g. olive, kiwi, potato and tobacco).

  • RESULTS

    The LIFE EVERGREEN project successfully identified an active strategy to control pathogenic plant bacteria and nematodes on crops of high economic value such as kiwi, olive and tobacco, without harming the environment. The following specific results were achieved:

  • The kilo-scale extraction of the high-quality polyphenolic bioactive molecules from non-edible vegetable biomass and waste was satisfactory and allowed the preparation of four commercial formulations which were tested at pilot scale;
  • The foreseen trials, going from lab to pilot scale, yielded the expected results under controlled conditions (growth chamber, greenhouse);
  • The tested polyphenols proved to inhibit pathogens’ mechanisms of invading the plant, without inducing resistance in the pathogen population nor exerting negative effects on other organisms;
  • Trials carried out in the open field provided positive outcomes;
  • Production costs of the project formulations and socio-economic impacts of the application of the polyphenols at large scale were described, with foreseen benefits for farmers and consumers; and
  • Targeted demonstration workshops were held in Italy and Spain, involving the stakeholders and relevant institutional actors.
  • The project results contribute to the implementation of the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) and the Soil Thematic Strategy (COM(2006)231, 22.9.2006), by reducing copper entering the receiving waters and preventing damage to soil, respectively.

    Production costs of the formulations are still high when compared to other commercial bio-pesticides. Therefore, further research is needed to identify industrial manufacturing processes suitable to make the poly-phenols economically viable. The overall long-term socio-economic impact is good as it is related to the possibility of reducing the amount of waste by transforming it into useful active ingredients for plant disease control, which in turn will make the activity of crop protection less harmful for the farmers and consumers.

    Prospects of replicability are good, already two farmers organisations dealing respectively with grape and tobacco production have shown their interest in testing the poly-phenolic preparations in their fields and, in general, European farmers and nursery/farm/horticultural SMEs, especially those operating in compliance with the EC Regulation for Organic Production are likely to benefit from the results of the project.

    Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see "Read more" section).

    The LIFE EVERGREEN project successfully identified an active strategy to control pathogenic plant bacteria and nematodes on crops of high economic value such as kiwi, olive and tobacco, without harming the environment. The following specific results were achieved:
  • The kilo-scale extraction of the high-quality polyphenolic bioactive molecules from non-edible vegetable biomass and waste was satisfactory and allowed the preparation of four commercial formulations which were tested at pilot scale;
  • The foreseen trials, going from lab to pilot scale, yielded the expected results under controlled conditions (growth chamber, greenhouse);
  • The tested polyphenols proved to inhibit pathogens’ mechanisms of invading the plant, without inducing resistance in the pathogen population nor exerting negative effects on other organisms;
  • Trials carried out in the open field provided positive outcomes;
  • Production costs of the project formulations and socio-economic impacts of the application of the polyphenols at large scale were described, with foreseen benefits for farmers and consumers; and
  • Targeted demonstration workshops were held in Italy and Spain, involving the stakeholders and relevant institutional actors.
  • The project results contribute to the implementation of the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) and the Soil Thematic Strategy (COM(2006)231, 22.9.2006), by reducing copper entering the receiving waters and preventing damage to soil, respectively.

    Production costs of the formulations are still high when compared to other commercial bio-pesticides. Therefore, further research is needed to identify industrial manufacturing processes suitable to make the poly-phenols economically viable. The overall long-term socio-economic impact is good as it is related to the possibility of reducing the amount of waste by transforming it into useful active ingredients for plant disease control, which in turn will make the activity of crop protection less harmful for the farmers and consumers.

    Prospects of replicability are good, already two farmers organisations dealing respectively with grape and tobacco production have shown their interest in testing the poly-phenolic preparations in their fields and, in general, European farmers and nursery/farm/horticultural SMEs, especially those operating in compliance with the EC Regulation for Organic Production are likely to benefit from the results of the project.

    Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see "Read more" section).

    ADMINISTRATIVE DATA


    Reference: LIFE13 ENV/IT/000461
    Acronym: LIFE EVERGREEN
    Start Date: 01/10/2014
    End Date: 30/09/2016
    Total Budget: 1,273,407 €
    EU Contribution: 631,747 €
    Project Location:

    CONTACT DETAILS


    Coordinating Beneficiary: Department of Agri-Food Production Sciences and of Environment - University ofFlorence
    Legal Status: PAT
    Address: Piazzale delle Cascine 18, 50144, Firenze), Italia
    Contact Person: Stefania Tegli
    Email: stefania.tegli@unifi.it
    Tel: 390554573228
    Website: http://www.dispaa.unifi.it/mdswitch.html


    LIFE Project Map

    ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES ADDRESSED

    THEMES

    • Water quality improvement
    • Agriculture - Forestry
    • Soil and landscape protection

    KEYWORDS

    • agricultural method
    • soil degradation
    • pollution prevention
    • alternative material
    • alternative technology
    • agricultural waste
    • pest control

    TARGET EU LEGISLATION

    • Directive 2000/60 - Framework for Community action in the field of water policy (23.10.2000)
    • COM(2006)231 - “Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection” (22.09.2006)

    BENEFICIARIES

    Name Type
    Department of Agri-Food Production Sciences and of Environment - University ofFlorence Coordinator
    INSTM(Consorzio Interuniversitario nazionale per la Scienza e Tecnologia dei materiali), Italy Participant
    CEBAS-CSIC(CENTRO DE EDAFOLOGIA Y BIOLOGIA APLICADA DEL SEGURA), Spain Participant
    ASTRA(ASTRA innovazione e sviluppo), Italy Participant
    MONDOVERDE(MONDO VERDE casa & Giardino srl), Italy Participant