Life 13 / Evergreen Project
The EVERGREEN project will demonstrate the successful use of biomolecules recovered from agricultural vegetable wastes as substitutes of pesticides for the environmentally friendly and sustainable control of plant diseases.
Among the most harmful phytopathogens which threaten crops, causing severe losses and including many quarantine for Europe, there are bacteria and nematodes. Current pesticides for controlling these plant pathogens are definitely unsatisfactory and highly pollutant.
The main goal of EVERGREEN will be to demonstrate the in vitro and in vivo efficacy and reliability of the polyphenolic-based biomolecules extracted from agricultural non-food biomasses and wastes as disease control products against phytopathogenic bacteria and nematodes, for replacing current commercial pesticides and application of copper salts in conventional and organic agriculture. Optimised field treatments will also be carried out on several plants and crops having a high commercial value and here used as a model (Olive, Kiwi, Potato, Tobacco).
• the demonstration of broad spectrum control strategies against these phytopathogens and the diseases they cause worldwide, in an integrated management of the resources;
• demonstrating efficacy and reliability in pilot studies carried out by the participants, using several model plants and crops,
• having null environmental impact;
• having null ability to cause the onset and the spread of any resistance, because not targeted towards functions specifically related to bacterial or nematode viability;
• not providing a persistent selection pressure causing in the environment the co-selection of bacteria resistant to antibiotics and/or to heavy metals, with dramatic consequences on animals and humans health, as occurring with some pesticides and with copper.
• The compliance with current REACH EU legislation of the optimized processes for the chemical recovery/extraction of polyphenolic-based bioactive molecules from vegetable wastes.
• The recycling of agricultural non-food vegetable biomasses and wastes to extract bioactive molecules with a highly positive and heavy impact:
1. on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions given by the direct incineration of these biomasses and wastes;
2. on reduction of the pollution of water and soil for their disposal in the environment;
3. on the their cost-efficient management, having a beneficial effect on farmers budgets, enabling a strong sustainable economic growth in the agricultural sector.
Actions and means involved
EVERGREEN aims at innovating the approach towards plant disease control, reducing or replacing conventional chemical pesticides with environmentally friendly and highly bioactive molecules recovered from agricultural vegetable wastes. The project has a double goal to simultaneously improve the safety profile of plant disease control products for environmental compatibility and to support the sustainability of plant production to pursue cost-effective strategies.
The main project actions will:
1. demonstrate the negative environmental impact of the use of conventional chemical pesticides for the control ofbacterial and nematode diseases of plants.
2. demonstrate the performances as plant disease control products of the polyphenolic-based molecules extracted from agricultural vegetable wastes, at laboratory, pilot and field scale.
3. demonstrate the efficiency of tailored formulations of these polyphenolic-based molecules as plant disease control products, to achieve the highest activity on the different plant pathogens.
4. demonstrate the reliability and the compliance with REACH document of EU legislation of the extraction processes for these polyphenolic-based molecules, from the lab-scale to the kilo-lab scale.
5. demonstrate the project technical validity for optimising the up-scaling of treatments with the sepolyphenolic-based molecules recovered from agricultural vegetable wastes, from laboratory to pilot scale and to semi-industrial scale.
6. demonstrate themore efficient and ecotoxicologically compatible profile of these bioactive molecules than conventional pesticides, at laboratory, pilot and field scale.
7. demonstrate the absence of any side unexpected effect of the bioactive polyphenolic-based molecules on common molecular targets of living organisms, at laboratory, pilot and semi-industrial scale.
8. demonstrate the absence of any direct or cross-acting selection operated by the bioactive polyphenolic-based molecules towards the emergence of unwanted resistance phenomena in their respect or for conventional pesticides, copper or even antibiotics, at laboratory, pilot and semi-industrial scale.
9. demonstrate the short term environmental benefits and the economical advantages from the use of polyphenolic-based molecules recovered from agricultural vegetable wastes in the control of biotic plant diseases.
10. coordinate and manage the project and disseminate the results of the project in view of a wide application of its results within the EU Member States.
The EVERGREEN project has the following technical goals, which will be quantified according to:
• Long term reduction (80-100%) of pollution in agricultural soils given by conventional pesticides used against plant pathogenic bacteria and nematodes, following their replacement with the project polyphenolic-based bioactive molecules recovered from agricultural non-food vegetable biomasses and wastes.
• Increased performances in the control of the bacterial and nematode diseases of plants (55%) for the wider temporal application of the project polyphenolic-based bioactive molecules in comparison with conventional pesticides, even in period of plant life cycle which are critical for infections but during which traditional chemical plant protection treatments are not allowed.
• Reduction (80-100%) of point-source and diffuse pollution from the disposal of agricultural vegetable wastes in the environment.
• Reduction (45%) of costs for disposal of agricultural non-food vegetable biomasses and wastes.
• Reduction (20%) of energy consumption used for remediation processes of pesticides-contaminated soils
• Improved soil fertility (70%) following the reduction/replacing of conventional agrochemicals products for plant diseases control with the project polyphenolic-based bioactive molecules.
• Increased soil microbial diversity (65%) with positive impact on soil biology and on the transformation and dynamic of nutrients.
• Increased (45%) natural competence inagrosystems for suppression against plant pathogenic bacteria and fungi.
• Long term reduction (90%) of pesticides pollution in watercourses.
• Reduction (80%) of toxicological impact of pesticides pollution on terrestrial, aerial and aquatic fauna.
• Short term reduction (85%) of pesticide- and drug-resistant bacteria and nematodes in agricultural sites.
• Long term reduction (60%) of the reservoir of environmental antibiotic-resistant bacteria and of their spread with reduction of the risks for the health of humans and animals.
• Reduction (90%) of pesticides residues on fruit and vegetable for human and animal consumption.
• Increased quality (40%) of food and feed from vegetable origin with benefits on human and animal health.