Skip to main content

Development of an Innovative Industrial Bioreacting and Fermentation Process producing an Organic Insect Repellent-Fertilizer for Ecological farming

Article Category

Article available in the folowing languages:

Organic answer to cabbage root fly

Cabbage, cauliflower and other organically grown brassica vegetables are under attack from the cabbage root fly, whose larvae eat the plants' roots. Traditionally, the only solution has been to use nets to control the pest as organic production prohibits the use of synthetic insecticides; however, a new organic product created by EU-funded researchers acts as both insect repellent and fertiliser.

Climate Change and Environment

The ECOBUG project developed an innovative bioreacting and fermentation process that produced a cost-effective, smell-free combined insect repellent and fertiliser that fulfilled strict criteria allowing it to be used in organic farming. In addition, the production process could bestow economic benefits on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Fertiliser production was based on the anaerobic digestion of manure in a bioreactor and subsequently dried. Production of the insect repellent was based on strains of cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue–green algae. The cyanobacteria have proven properties for repelling cabbage root fly and were mass produced in a photobioreactor and then dried into flakes. The final product was mixed into the solid fertiliser with a small amount of cyanobacteria flakes and then extruded, turned into pellets, dried and coated. It was found that the ECOBUG product could be stored for over a year without any deterioration in its effect. Researchers conducted field trials to test the product's ability to repel pests and its fertiliser ability. Results revealed that no damage was caused by cabbage root fly, nor were any eggs found nearby. Crop yields were also shown to increase 28 % for white cabbage and 50 % for kohlrabi. In addition, scientists conducted incubation tests and greenhouse tests to determine the effect of adding additional nutrients and different insect repellents to the pellets. ECOBUG successfully developed a smell-free solid insect repellent fertiliser that is suitable for farmers growing organic cabbages and other members of the brassica family. Pellets can also be used for growing other crops and designed according to their needs by combining different ingredients. The production process can be operated by livestock farmers and combined with an aerobic digestion biogas plant, while the cyanobacteria mass production can be carried out by algal farmers who can sell the cyanobacteria flakes. The ECOBUG pellets provided organic pest control, an environment friendly organic fertiliser plus the opportunity for farmers to develop their own production business.

Discover other articles in the same domain of application