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Innovative biological products for soil pest control. (INBIOSOIL)

INBIOSOIL will explore in detail the recently discovered synergistic effects between entomopathogenic fungi (EPFs), entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs), and semiochemicals by developing innovative co-formulations, making use of strategies derived from nature. These co-formulations will be based on capsules containing new strains of EPFs (Metarhizium anisopliae, Beauveria bassiana) in combination with strains of EPNs (Heterorhabditis bacteriophora), or semiochemicals. Additionally, INBIOSOIL will develop integrated pest management (IPM) strategies that exploit synergies between these biocontrol agents and semiochemicals, independently of the newly developed formulations, which are based on existing formulations of biological control agents (BCAs) named above.
These activities will result in two prototypes of improved formulations containing either EPF biomass and co-formulated EPFs and/or efficiency enhancing agents (EEAs), in accordance with the milestones proposed at project month 24 and 36, respectively. The novel formulations aim at overcoming the drawbacks in the application of BCAs like EPF, e.g. handling and low shelf life. Furthermore these formulations will allow for protection of sensitive biomass from biotic and abiotic stress factors, for slow/controlled release into the soil resp. rhizosphere from a „depot" controlled by environmental conditions and formulation material properties. Additionally these formulations will improve establishment of mycelium in soil, enhance efficacy and reduce application costs due to a decreased number of applications. The development of novel formulations proposed by INBIOSOIL will include screening for innovative bio-polymeres based on sustainable raw materials as opposed to conventionally used chemical pesticides and synthetic polymers, whose production is ultimately based on mineral oil.

Universidad de Córdoba

The efficacy of EPF can be greatly improved by using them in combination with EPN or semiochemicalss or low application rates of chemical pesticides. Although these strategies result in reduced application rates of formulations based on the synergistic use of BCAs, an economic exploitation of these strategies has not yet resulted in marketable products. INBIOSOIL will focus on exploiting these synergies, resulting in reduction or substitution of chemical pesticides. The new formulations will be evaluated against key environmental performance indicators (ie. amount of active ingredient per ha and non-target effects). By reducing application rates of either BCAs or conventional pesticides considerable savings could be made and additional income generated in crops where maximum residue levels (MRLs) hinder continuous cropping. The new products (Fig. 1.1), will contribute to the reduction of the use of fossile carbon-based chemical pesticides in agriculture and horticulture, thereby minimising direct and indirect effects of chemical pesticide use on the environment.
Both researchers and SMEs industrial partners have identified EPF and EPN strains targeting a number of subterranean pests addressed above.
The project will generate risk assessment data to accelerate registration and reassure stakeholders of the safety of these environmentally friendly agents and strategies. In order to obtain a measurable footprint of the INBIOSOIL products, environmental effects will be assessed. For safety as well as commercial reasons it is important to gain knowledge on the fate and behavior of applied formulations in the environment. Regulators need to know if the inoculums builds up with successive applications of the formulations or returns to background levels and if there are effects on non-targets and/or the food chain. Growers need to know how quickly the inoculum levels decline before they have to reapply the agent. INBIOSOIL will provide methods and tools to monitor formulations and generate data on the fate and effects of formulations, including persistence in the soil.

INBIOSOIL will disseminate knowledge through already well developed extensive national networks to ensure a rapid communication directly to growers or to their organizations, by meetings, leaflets and Internet. This ensures the maximum benefit for the European Union society in terms of safer food production. An important element will be the establishment of an interactive web-page for public attendance. It is also a fact that education at the university level in biocontrol has not yet reached its full potential. With the help of "virtual university" teaching in biological soil pest control is planned (preliminary elements have been developed by INBIOSOIL partners) and can easily be executed in close cooperation with other initiatives (Euro-League Life Sciences Universities (ELLS), Erasmus Mundus Programme). Materials for school classes will also be provided and we will ensure that students from high school/gymnasium gets access to parts of the virtual university to be stimulated to become interested in this topic. As "policy makers" our reports will be sent to all the pertinent Scientific Committees within the EU to help formulate co-ordinated policy to support biocontrol in their environment. Consumers will be asked for a feedback to be influential on the decision about priorities to be employed in future concepts for biological pest control at the European level (e.g. consumer's attitude and political movements). New, ever evolving IPM strategies need the methods and tools to allow agronomists and the EC to evaluate the socio-economic risks and benefits of these novel strategies. INBIOSOIL will develop such tools which will allow for:
• risk and cost benefit analysis;
• fine tuning of IPM strategies;
• harmonization of monitoring, quality control checks on BCAs and other control agents;
• assessment of efficacy of IPM components and IPM programmes; and
• data generation on other parameters essential to improve IPM programmes across Europe.

The team will help build a European Knowledge Based Economy by developing eco-innovative technologies that reduce inputs of harmful chemical pesticides thus significantly improving environmental protection. These goals are in accord with the Europe 2020 strategy and compliant with the definition of Eco-innovation given below.


Code PAIDI: AGR-163

Enrique Quesada Moraga. partner. 

Universidad de Córdoba

Budget of Andalusian group: € 316,138.00

15 universities and european research centres

Duration: 36 months. July, 1th 2012 to June, 30th 2015
Project cost: € 4,984,654