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SMART MICROBIOME-BASED PLATFORM FOR THE EARLY DETECTION OF BIOLOGICAL THREATS IN AGRICULTURE

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MicCropHealth (SMART MICROBIOME-BASED PLATFORM FOR THE EARLY DETECTION OF BIOLOGICAL THREATS IN AGRICULTURE)

Reporting period: 2018-12-01 to 2019-03-31

Despite the money farmers spend on nutritional supplements and phytosanitary products direct economic losses associated with diseases in woody crops are around m€34 per ha (cost of replanting); and the indirect losses associated with the derived lack of product sales, in certain markets (vines, citrus, etc.), up to m€250 per ha (for time needed to recover productivity). Total disease loss ranges from 5% to 30% of the crop value (average loss of 13%).
Farmers does not have all information about what is happening in their soil. As a result, they make decisions about treatments (fertilizers and phytosanitaries) based on indirect parameters like the plant vigor loss, colour changes... We have developed the first patented smart soil microbiome-based platform with a unique database of more than 4,500 samples from 18 different countries of soil microbial profiles (built using Next Generation Sequencing -NGS- techniques). It is able to identify the whole soil microbiome (+30K microbial species instead of just the 10-15 species detectable by current alternative molecular techniques) with only a soil sample per ha, and provide actionable information to farmers, giving them metrics about disease risks, general biodiversity losses, and/or nutritional shortcomings.
Currently, BeCrop© has been demonstrated in operational environment in wine sector (WineSeq©). To deploy BeCrop© and to extend the product to other valuable crops, we aim now to build a robust business plan that consider the technical, commercial and financial aspects, in order to minimize risks.
To reach the agriculture sector in general, and extend our technology to other crops, we have started to make pilot projects in apple trees, soybeans, corn, sugarcane and olive trees fields, so we can consider our technology is currently in TRL7.
These first pilots have served us to begin to analyse the microbiome present in the target crops and begin to develop our database of metacommunities and for the definition of the algorithms that will allow us to categorize the soil according to its microbial functional groups and resilience, as well as its evolution through applied treatments. In order to make a fully functional system, with a robust prediction system and to be able to launch our system to the market, we still have to: (i) expand the database of metacomunities of crops with samples from multiple plots with different origins in different countries to make a robust database with a high predictive capacity (TRL7); (ii) implementation of the IT platform and AI algorithms for new crops (TRL8); (iii) pilot tests in selected plots to validate the algorithms in real situation and once the results are validated, launch the platform to the market for the target crops (TRL9)
BeCrop® is the disruptive technology that harnessing in the DNA-NGS and AI is able to establish a new paradigm in the diagnosis of agricultural soil status analysing the microbial communities of the soil, the soil microbiome, enhancing farming by prediction of disease threats as early as prior to planting, allowing for targeted prevention methods that enable less reliance on chemical treatments and create an opportunity for more sustainable approaches to disease prevention.
BeCrop® is the only system allowing with a single test to: (i) measure the functional status of the soil in relation to biodiversity, crop vulnerability and nutrition, as well as make actual recommendations to optimize the use of agricultural inputs, increase yield and improve sustainability; (ii) monitor along the time the effects that the different treatments have on the plots and the crops; (iii) design specific treatments for each plot and crop; (iv) design probiotics to improve the microbiome present in the soil; (v) choose the most suitable varieties to plant depending on the microbiome present in the soil.
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Sampling kit
Sampling soil