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.
Bio4safe aims to reduce water and fertilizer use in horticulture by using biostimulants and innovative plant sensors. By focusing on seaweed biostimulants, economic opportunities for seaweed producers in the 2 Seas Region will be created.
The first year, North Sea Farm with input from all partners, identified the current seaweed biostimulant market, the market potential of various seaweed biostimulants and the market potential of local seaweeds for application in biostimulants. During those studies, we identified a lot of stakeholders (producers of biostimulants, producers of seaweeds, policymakers, researchers, users of biostimulants, etc.) from the 4 participating countries and further away.
This will lead to goals and strategies for increasing application of seaweed biostimulants and seaweeds for biostimulants in the next years.
Ghent University, Proeftuin Zwaagdijk, PCS Ornamental Plant Research, ISA Lille/Pôle Légumes and NIAB EMR/Dove Associates worked together to demonstrate the effect of biostimulants in combination with plant monitoring sensors on the water and nitrogen use efficiency and crop quality of different horticultural crops. The same biostimulants were applied on different crops per country, partners consulted each other to optimise the use of sensors and measurements.
Each partner published the results in an annual report. We held several visits and gave a lot of presentations to different stakeholders to increase the adoption of biostimulants and sensors. Next year, we will grow the crops with 20% water and 10-20% fertilizer reduction to achieve the project goal. In the next years, we will (1) make a database with information on the effects of biostimulants on horticultural plants, (2) develop a webbased application for growers to access the database and select the most appropriate biostimulant, and (3) demonstrate the best sensors to measure plant responses on reduced water and fertilizer input. So far, we started summarising literature on biostimulants for the database.
Since the start of the project, the partners held 17 open days and visits, spread 16 news items, announced project news via social media and held 19 presentations. In this way, together we already informed over 50000 people about Bio4safe.