An innovative approach to enhance resource efficiency and safeguarding by using biostimulants and innovative sensors in horticulture | 2 Mers Seas Zeeën


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An innovative approach to enhance resource efficiency and safeguarding by using biostimulants and innovative sensors in horticulture

Priority Axis

Resource Efficient Economy

Specific objective

Efficient Use of Resources and Materials

Lead partner

Proefcentrum voor Sierteelt






Project budget

3 176 266

ERDF amount

1 905 760

ERDF rate



    Common challenge

    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.

    Main Achievements

    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.



    Universiteit Gent


    Pôle Légumes Région Nord

    Yncréa Hauts de France, établissement ISA Lille

    Proeftuin Zwaagdijk

    Stichting Noordzeeboerderij

    Dove Associates