Project: Green Crop Protectants

This proposal is initiated by some young enthusiastic SMEs working in the field of crop protection that are interested to become more than just followers and copiers of crop protectants products from natural origin from outside the EU. As the SMEs individually do not have all the necessary expertise and finances to do research in novel natural crop protectants (such as fungicides, insect and weed control agents)(NCP), they want to team up with some of the leading research groups in the field of natural products and natural crop protectants in the EU. In that way we will achieve the necessary critical mass for the development of novel natural crop protectants from European resources. All participating SMEs do at present have research on different novel products._x000D__x000D_Why new natural crop protectants (NCPs)? _x000D_Three obvious reasons can be given: First and foremost, the strong and increasing demand from the market, NCPs offer several advantages that make them attractive to the environmentally conscious consumer. They are much safer than conventional pesticides which, often doled out in large quantities, are hazardous and dangerous chemicals. With the continuously increasing oil prices as well as environmental considerations, it is worthwhile to look for alternatives for synthetic chemical processes. Second, NCPs are very effective in smaller quantities and they decompose at a much faster rate than synthetics, which minimizes their impact on the environment. Finally, NCPs can supplement the conventional pesticides used in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs. _x000D_A green solution by a sustainable agricultural production of natural crop protectants (NCP) is the answer to that._x000D_Despite all efforts to breed or engineer plants with increased resistance against pests and diseases, there will always be a need for crop protectants. In part that will be for the large agricultural crops, in part for niche areas such as horticulture, greenhouses, organic farming, households, and gardens. The NCPs are particularly used in these markets. Products are required that are safe for environment as well as consumer, and preferably also with novel activities to eventually avoid problems of resistance._x000D_Already several NCPs are on the market, such as from the Indian neem tree Azadirachta (azadirachtin), and Pyrethrum (pyrethrines), both for example commonly used in households. _x000D__x000D_All of the participating SMEs formulate and market such crop protection products in their respective home countries. From the market there is a large demand for novel NCPs produced in a sustainable way, given their natural origin. For these companies it is thus a must to broaden their spectra of formulations of safe natural products. Due to the fragmented European market, the individual SMEs do not have the critical mass for developing novel products, as a result most innovation in this field is done outside the EU, and forces them to import NCP from outside the EU. For example in the US natural insecticides are produced from citrus peels and exported to the EU. _x000D_Though each SME has a reasonable market share in its home country, none has the full R&D infrastructure to develop novel products. The research groups involved in the project do have the necessary complementary expertise for the development of novel products. They have already some products in their R&D that seems promising. The further development of these products will be accelerated by the extra possibilities offered by the consortium, and the improved commercial perspectives through access to other EU-markets. _x000D_Through the present project the critical mass will be created for an innovation platform developing novel products and to internationalize the activities of the participants. At the same time it will create novel activities in the whole production column from plant cultivation to product formulation.

Acronym GREENPROTECTION (Reference Number: 4428)
Duration 01/03/2009 - 28/02/2012
Project Topic The project brings together some Eurpean SMEs and research institutes to develop novel crop protectants from natural (plant) origin.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
Results obtained of the phase II extract of Glycyrrhiza glabra, (Liquorice, P1)_x000D_3 active substances (a.i.‘s) in the P1 extract, which showed good efficacy when applied protective against downy mildew and late blight on plants in climate chambers and in the glasshouse, were identified. This enabled us to produce standards which are used as lead analytical substances to compare the composition of different liquorice accessions by HPLC analysis or to standarize formulations of the extract._x000D__x000D_About 100 formulations where tested on their solubility. An in vitro UV test to simulate the degradation of the leading compounds under day light emitting lamps/ UV lamp with analysing the a.i.’s by HPLC has been developed. Parallel their efficacies on potted tomato plants against late blight were tested. By adding different emulsifiers, additives and carriers the amount of extracted dry mass of P1 leaves could be reduced from 5 % to 2 %. UV stability and rain fastness still need to be improved for the application under field conditions._x000D__x000D_Standardised tests for storage stability equal to a storage for 2 years at room temperature showed no degradation of the a.i.’s in 100 % Ethanol. _x000D__x000D_We compared the content of the 3 a.i.s in about 80 specimen of accessions from China, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Iran, Italy and Spain and their antifungal activities were monitored by tests on young tomato plants. We found a wide range in the content of the leading substances. Measured increases of the a.i.´s during the vegetation period did not always result in better efficacies. _x000D_Also a very interesting accession with a different spectrum of ingredients than the others but also high efficacy in controlling fungi was found._x000D__x000D_Preliminary tests on ecotoxicology risks of P1 were conducted with the extract, mixed with a commonly used fatty acid salt as carrier. Different toxicity for each tested aquatic organism could be observed: Alga < Daphnia < Fish. The toxicity on fish was very high in every concentration, whereas the effects on Alga & Daphnia were gradual and a future labelling in respect to these results in GHS would not be necessary. Analysis of the test media showed, that only a very little amount of the a.i. s could be detected. We concluded that the toxicity must come from the carrier substance although the REACH regulation categorises this salt among exemptions from the obligation to register._x000D__x000D_The P1 extract was sent to the ICA-CSIC for testing its ability to inhibit in vitro mycelia growing of Fusarium ssp.. The extract had a high efficacy on the 3 tested fungi species. _x000D__x000D_Results from tests with phase I extracts from our Ps_x000D_138 Extracts were delivered from HBD, NL and ICA-CSIC, ES and tested on their fungicidal and insecticidal potencial. _x000D_All in all none of the tested extracts had a sufficient insecticidal effect when applied topical or oral on biting/sucking insects.The mortality was to low even in the oral variant. A few extracts showed promising efficacies and were repeated but then they did not cause the high mortality of 100 % like before. _x000D__x000D_Samples of extracts from our Spanish P did not show a significant influence in vitro or in planta on the tested fungi, but one caused strong phytotoxic damages, so that it might be used as a herbicide._x000D_Some of the HBD extracts were not soluble in solutions which were suitable for the tests. In vitro a few of the extracts showed a high efficacy on the growth of the mycelia but these positive results could not always be repeated in planta. Others with good results were not resolvable after having been stored at 4 °C some weeks. All in all there were no extract which we are interested to have further tests.
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 1

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
5 Holland Biodiversity BV Partner Netherlands
5 Trifolio-M GmbH Coordinator Germany
5 Department of Pharmacognosy, Section Metabolomics, Leiden University Partner Netherlands