Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BioWeedControl (BioWeedControl: Accelerating Europe’s transition towards a chemical-free agriculture)
Reporting period: 2020-10-01 to 2021-09-30
Agriculture is facing enormous challenges: by 2050, it is expected to feed nearly ten billion people. An additional problem is that energy, water and arable land are becoming increasingly scarce. In order not to permanently damage the soil, sustainable management and a reduction of environmental pollution from agriculture is important. Furthermore agriculture is the foundation of a bio-based economy and the source of safe and nutritious food for the world’s population. Tremendous changes are facing this industry as climate change makes outdoor production more vulnerable and important input factors are getting scarce. Weed management is crucial for sustainable and resource efficient farming and does not need to be based on chemicals any more. Bind-X supports farmers with a new technology that not only helps to control weed growth but also mitigates problems caused by climate change such as wind erosion.
Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far
In WP1 new product formulations were developed for several pre-emergence row crop applications. The weed control efficacy and other relevant aspects for all formulations were proven in laboratory and green house. 10 tuned formulations were tested in WP2 within the field season 2021 and the first milestone was clearly reached. Results of the trials are highly promising but are still under final evaluation. WP3 started with a successful production process development (SOPs) that led into a faster than anticipated fermentation scale-up at a pilot facility. Sufficient biomass and final product candidate formulations were delivered for the field season. In WP4 the IP protection of BioWeedControl was further strengthened, for instance through a broad nationalisation (39 countries) of a core patent, the granting of an additional patent and the filing of another patent. Furthermore the project team has gathered lots of positive and constructive feedback from potential clients and industry experts, for instance at the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit. Overall everything is on track and after the first 12 months the BioWeedControl team is even more motivated and optimistic to have a ready-to-market product at the end of the project.
Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)
Bind-X offers a radically different and innovative approach to protect crops against weeds. Instead of killing weeds by using an active substance, which is how most conventional herbicides work, BioWeedControl introduces a completely new mode of action to the market, a new concept preventing weed growth by forming a mechanical/physical layer in the soil. The unique offering of the technology, i.e. similar efficacies than chemical herbicides but without harmful effects on the environment and human health, is supplemented by additional functionalities such as erosion control. At the same time the farmer can use the existing application equipment and has no disadvantages in regard to supply chain and storage. BioWeedControl furthermore has no negative effects on insects and preserves biodiversity.