EU Call for Proposals: Demonstrate bio-based pesticides and/or biostimulant agents for sustainable increase in agricultural productivity

The optimal use of new arable lands calls for environmentally friendly products for plant health enhancement, such as biostimulants able to foster plant growth without ‘overloading’ the environment with potentially harmful chemical inputs.
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Eligible Countries | Regions | Cities  European Union

Use of synthetic, fossil-based pesticides in the agriculture sector is under pressure. Consumer and environmental considerations have resulted in an increasing number of regulations limiting their applications. Moreover, increasing resistance to pesticides by various pests and diseases limits their commercial life-span. As a result, availability of efficient chemical solutions to certain agricultural pests is dwindling. These developments are threatening current and future agricultural production levels.

Bio-based solutions such as bio-based pesticides have the potential to decrease inputs of synthetic pesticides in the agricultural sector, while providing high yields in terms of pests’ control. However, having a higher selectivity than currently used pesticides, they would require the combination of different solutions in integrated pest management approaches to obtain the total desired results. Also, extensive testing needs to prove they meet all requirements regarding risks, toxicity and pathogenicity. These factors have been holding back a wide use so far.

On the other hand, one of the biggest challenges of agriculture is to guarantee high crop yields and productivity, while matching increasingly stringent environmental regulations dealing with the agricultural sector. Moreover, the increasing world population and the related increased demand for sustainable food production systems are boosting the expansion of agricultural practices also in currently un- or under-exploited lands. Thus, the optimal use of such new arable lands calls for environmentally friendly products for plant health enhancement, such as biostimulants able to foster plant growth without ‘overloading’ the environment with potentially harmful chemical inputs.

The specific challenge is to apply sustainable solutions for effective pest control and/or biostimulation enabling a sustainable increase of agricultural productivity.

Scope

Demonstrate effective production and application of bio-based pesticides and/or biostimulant agents to maintain and increase agricultural productivity.

Proposals may address both bio-based pesticides and biostimulants and in so doing can show complementarity and synergy between the two in an integrated approach.

In case proposals address only biostimulants, proposals should target products based on bioactives extracted/derived from bio-based feedstock.

This topic includes any bio-based feedstock, provided it can be sourced in a way that is sustainable both from an environmental and an economic perspective.

Proposals that target actives/molecules from bio-based feedstock should include:

  1. the sourcing and chemical characterisation of the base feedstock;
  2. the separation and purification of the desired compounds; and
  3. the optimal and safe production of the standardised final products.

Proposals should include an experimental validation stage, assessing the effect of the developed products or microorganisms on the targeted crop(s). Proposals should also compare the effects of the developed products when applied to the same crop and to the relevant soil types and growing conditions. In this test work, the performance of the products or microorganisms developed should be demonstrated, in terms of, for example, their tolerance to abiotic stress, their water uptake, nutrient assimilation and overall crop quality of the crop (in the case of biostimulants), and/or resistance to pests and diseases (in the case of bio-based pesticides).

Proposals should provide evidence of the test results.

Proposals should address all requirements for IA - demonstration actions as shown in Table 3 of the Annual Work Plan 2019.

The technology readiness level (TRL) at the end of the project should be 6-7. Proposals should clearly state the starting and end TRLs of the key technology or technologies targeted in the project.

Indicative funding

It is considered that proposals requesting a maximum contribution of EUR 7 million would be able to address this specific challenge appropriately. However, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact

Expected impacts linked to BBI JU KPIs:

  • contribute to KPI 1 – create at least one new cross-sector inter­connection in the bio-based economy;
  • contribute to KPI 2 – create at least one new bio-based value chain;
  • contribute to KPI 6 – Demonstrate at least one [new ‘consumer’ products / bio-based applications] based on bio-based chemicals and materials that meet market requirements.

Environmental impacts

  • reduce the environmental footprint associated with agricultural activities as compared with existing alternative approaches;
  • increase the overall resource efficiency.

Economic impacts

  • increase crop yield by at least 10 % as compared with existing cultivation cases based on chemical inputs;
  • reduce costs of crop nutrition and control by 15 % as compared with benchmark chemical approaches;
  • increase income and business opportunities for stakeholders and actors in the bio-based sectors, in particular in the primary sectors.

Social impacts

  • create new job opportunities in the bio-based sector, particularly the rural areas.

Dateline for proposal submission: 4 September 2019 17:00:00 Brussels time

Source: The European Commission

Illustration Photo: Making biopesticide with microorganisms (credits: John Donaghy / Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0))

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