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Advanced (nano and bio-based) materials for sustainable agriculture (RIA)


This topic refers to the innovation market[[]] for sustainable agriculture. The next generation of fertilisers, biocides and plant protection products for agriculture should need to be based on new delivery systems made from advanced (nano)materials (nanosubstances and nanoformulations of conventional substances) or and/or bio-based materials, to enable target-specific, precise and slow release of the product, reduction of load of active substances, ease of application, reduced risk for non-target organisms and operator exposure, reduced wash-off, reduced costs for farmers, etc.

Proposals should address at least four of the following activities, the second bullet point being compulsory:

  • Develop advanced (nano)material-based delivery systems and/or bio-based materials for agriculture. The new agrochemicals should exhibit less GHGs emissions, improved efficiency, improved toxicity and ecotoxicity profile and biodegradability to overcome the problems of traditional agrochemicals (e.g. pest resistance, bioaccumulation in non-target fauna or flora, soil, groundwater, as well as bioaccumulation and bioconcentration in the food chain due to release to the environment).
  • Each proposal should identify and address one or more (nano)active substances or delivery systems for (nano)formulations and/or bio-based materials (including biopolymers and biodegradable polymers) for which they will provide a sound risk and safety assessment including toxicity evaluation for non-target organisms, and humans and environment, and sustainability assessment along their entire life-cycle, including a holistic assessment of the short-, medium- and long-term impact (environmental, economic, social) of all substances/materials of the proposed solution. The safety and sustainability assessment should be done according to the Safe and Sustainable by Design framework.[[ See documents defining the SSbD framework on:]] This activity needs to be addressed by all proposals.
  • Undertake a proof of concept of the efficiency of the selected delivery systems in real-life case studies. The justification for the selection of materials for new agrochemicals as well as case studies (e.g. type of crop for agrochemicals testing, etc.) should include environmental and socio-economic aspects.
  • The proposals should build on existing standards for production and risk assessment, when available and relevant, and should consider the requirements laid down in the specific guidance for risk assessment of the selected delivery systems (e.g. the EFSA Guidance on risk assessment of nanomaterials to be applied in the food and feed chain[[ EFSA Guidance on risk assessment of nanomaterials including Appendices D.2 for pesticides, D.5 for nanocarriers and D.6 for fertilisers;]] or the EFSA guidance on specific protection goal and ecosystem services[[]] for environmental assessment and sustainability).
  • Data produced during the development of new agrochemicals should be FAIR[[]] and the FAIRness should also be demonstrated and shared through available platforms (e.g. IPCHEM[[]], e-NanoMapper[[]], etc.).
  • Proposals should build on or seek collaboration with existing projects and develop synergies with other relevant European, national or regional initiatives, funding programmes, clusters (e.g. EU Nanosafety Cluster[[]]) and platforms, in particular with the European Platform on Life Cycle Assessment (EPLCA)[[]].

This topic requires the effective contribution of Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) disciplines and the involvement of SSH experts, institutions as well as the inclusion of relevant SSH expertise in particular in social and economic assessments, to produce meaningful and significant effects enhancing the societal impact of the related research activities. An early involvement of end users could be essential.

Proposals submitted under this topic should include a business case and exploitation strategy, as outlined in the introduction to this Destination. Proposals should seek links with and capitalise on the results of relevant past and ongoing EU funded research projects, including the ones under Cluster 6 'Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources and Environment’. Namely, the proposals are expected to have synergies with the topic HORIZON-CL6-2023-FARM2FORK-01-7: Innovations in plant protection: alternatives to reduce the use of pesticides focusing on candidates for substitution.