"Development of a process to generate a novel plant protection product to replace copper in organic viticulture"

Project structure

Our aim is to develop an organic bio-fungicide enriched with micronutrients to replace copper and chemical fungicide in organic farming. In order to achieve this objective, there are a number of limitations that we must overcome, this requires new depths of scientific understanding which themselves will lead to the need for new technological developments.

Specific project objectives

  • To enhance scientific understanding in the areas of:
    • fungicidal properties of microalgae, identifying the required amount of microalgae biomass per hectare to achieve >90% fungicide efficiency under controlled laboratory conditions.
    • production parameters for growing microalgae biomass at rates of 1 g/L/day.
  • Define/optimise methods to scale-up the manufacture, processing and storage of microalgae preparations for application as a fungicide.
  • Define combination of micronutrients (e.g., Mg, Ca, Fe, Mn, Zn, B, Mo) based on natural raw materials to be added to the fungicide to promote grapevine growth.
  • Identify the possible development of resistance in plants induced by the developed products.
  • Validate and optimise application of fungicide for maximal efficacy against downy mildew and Botrytis and increase grapevine yield.

Technical objectives
  • Identify strains with antifungal activity against grape fungal diseases using the leaf-disk method and the agar diffusion method for evaluation of activity against downy mildew and Botrytis respectively (WP1).
  • Evaluate activity of 2 strains with greatest efficacy in greenhouse experiments using young grape plants inoculated with spores/conidia of downy mildew/Botrytis (WP1).
  • Identify growth parameters of selected microalgae and establish optimum growth rate, culture medium, temperature, pH, light intensity, airflow rate and CO2 concentration in bench-scale 6L flat panel photobioreactors (WP2).
  • Scale up production of microalgal biomass from 5 to 180 L flat panel airlift photobioreactors (WP2).
  • Optimise harvesting methodologies to concentrate the algae biomass (WP2 and WP3).
  • Develop a process to produce a stable bio-fungicide produced from algae biomass containing micronutrients (WP3).
  • Validation of required dose/application rate and product efficacy against downy mildew and Botrytis in greenhouses and field trials (WP4). This will be achieved by assessment of infected leaf surface, sporulation on infected lower leaf surface and percentage of infected bunches/fruits (WP4 and WP5).

The research leading to results in this project receives funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n°315546     European Union