An innovative approach to enhance resource efficiency and safeguarding by using biostimulants and innovative sensors in horticulture
Priority AxisResource Efficient Economy
Efficient Use of Resources and Materials
Lead partnerProefcentrum voor Sierteelt
Project budget3 176 266 €
ERDF amount1 905 760 €
The 2 Seas area is known for its intensive horticulture which demands significant amounts of water and nutrients. Several EU directives aim to protect water quality by preventing N and P leaching, aim to enhance soil quality or anticipate on water shortage. Besides these legislative environmental pressures, also economic reasons force growers to reduce water and nutrient consumption. Biostimulants (BS) enhance nutrient and water use efficiency of plants. Today, every Member State has its own regulation on commercializing BS. By 2020, the EU will implement a common European legal framework for the commercialization of BS, but it remains unclear how they will implement the registration procedure and how technical information will be determined. Further, the majority of the growers does not know how to choose the most effective BS or how to use monitoring tools (Survey PCS). Thus, we need a consistent approach in assessing the performance of BS and we need to increase the use of BS and monitoring tools.
This project aims to reduce water and fertilizer use in horticulture by using biostimulants and innovative tools. This combination will result in up to 20% reduction of water and 10% of fertilizers, depending on the crop. By including BS based on seaweeds, economic opportunities for seaweed producers will be created. Innovative sensors allow growers to monitor plant responses to reduced water supply and to adjust irrigation accordingly. Analytic tools allow users to determine water and nutrient use efficiency. This project will result in pilot data on biostimulants, generate innovative tools and demonstrate them to support growers, producers of biostimulants and suppliers of substrates & fertilizers. The multi-stakeholder approach permits a successful realization of project objectives since expertise of all partners is complementary, ensuring a broad dissemination. A policy protocol will be presented to policy makers to help implement the new European legislation on biostimulants.
• Feasibility study and market research for producers of seaweed and biostimulants and policy makers
• Pilot data on different crops including fruits, ornamentals and vegetables for growers, industry, stakeholders, policy makers, NGO’s and sector organisations
• Best available (and affordable) sensor tools to measure in situ plant responses to reduced water and fertilizer gift for growers and researchers
• A database and webapp on efficient biostimulants and their effects on horticultural plants for growers, resaechers and suppliers of horticultural and agricultural products
• Protocol for policy makers on how to measure the impact of biostimulants on fertilizer and water use efficiency and how to save water and fertilizers in horticulture.
Cross border approach
A cross-border approach for this project is necessary for the following reasons:
• to increase the impact of the results on the eutrophication of the North Sea, we need to reduce N and P fertilizer leaching in all countries linked to the North Sea including Belgium, France, UK and The Netherlands by using biostimulants and sensors
• to implement and disseminate the results on a larger scale, we need a consistent approach in assessment and demonstration of the performance of these products
• it will enable exchanges of key information on important products among different countries
• to reach critical mass (growers, policy makers, seed producers, substrate producers, fertilizer producers), dissemination and communication can permeate the entire project in all involved countries
• the project partners have complementary knowledge (eg on the use of different biostimulants) which is required to jointly develop the best technological solution for different territorial challenges.
The main goal of the Bio4safe project is to reduce water and fertilizer use in horticulture. To achieve this goal it is important to prove growers that lowering water and nutrient consumption during cultivation is possible without quality loss or yield loss. Within the Bio4safe project seaweed based biostimulants are tested and in situ steering of plants with innovative sensor tools is examined.
During the project’s first year, the current seaweed biostimulant market and the potential of local seaweeds for application in biostimulants was investigated to create economic opportunities for local seaweed producers. A strategy for market penetration was developed through workshops with different stakeholders resulting in different business cases. North Sea Farm created a road map with clear information on the biostimulant market.
As follow-up on the previous trials (2019), where drought and nutrient stress was applied, we decided to increase the amount of stress and adapt the trial protocol where needed. In our trials we examine the effectiveness of seaweed based biostimulants to increase the tolerance of plants to abiotic stress. Innovative sensor tools were used to measure specific plant characteristics such as water and nutrient use efficiency. Subsequent trials are still needed to get clear results on the effect of biostimulants and plant monitoring tools. Each partner published a report on their trial outcomes. The data of the trials were presented to the stakeholders in three webinars (EN, NL and FR), this to increase the adoption of biostimulants and sensor tools.
Our free online biostimulant database (www.biosafe.eu) was also launched during this webinar, a user-friendly database for growers where scientifically proven effects of commercial biostimulant products are bundled. Next year, we will still need to finetune the content of the database and add additional scientific literature received from the different stakeholder partners.
Through the collaboration of all the Bio4safe partners, we were able to reach over 150000 persons in total. All partners aim to spread as much information as possible through articles and presentations and to a lower extent (due to COVID-19) during open days. Since the start of the project, the partners held 27 open days and visits, spread 38 news items/articles and did 106 announcations via social media. Because of covid-19 we had to change the format of our observer partner meeting towards an online setting.