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Cost effective solution against insects in long-term grain storage by natural diatomaceous earth

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - PestiSi (Cost effective solution against insects in long-term grain storage by natural diatomaceous earth)

Periodo di rendicontazione: 2020-05-01 al 2021-07-31

It is estimated that about 35% potential crop yield is still lost due to pests worldwide and total crop losses from insect damage have nearly doubled from 7 to 13 % in Europe in the last 5 years. Due to the climate change and increased transportation traffic, the problems related to pest invasions are continuously increasing. However, the European Union targets to reduce the application of chemical pesticides. We have developed a natural insecticide based on formulated diatomaceous earth that can be applied during long-term grain storage. Our proposed product can kill all insects during storage with a long-lasting effect and it is completely harmless to vertebrates. The technical feasibility and business viability of the PestiSi project have already been proven in an SME Instrument Phase 1 project (no. 789748).
Two-third of stored grain commodities are estimated to be chemically treated twice per season minimum. Due to global climate change and increased international trading, the incidence of insect contaminations will expectedly increase. Chemical regulations allow the use of less active ingredient per treatment which leads to the increased number of necessary treatments which have greater environmental impact on a long term. The wide spreading of our method will reduce the possible food and feed contamination by chemical pesticides, which will be beneficial for the whole society.
Our objective is to commercialise PestiSi as a diatomaceous-earth-based insecticide applied during long-term grain storage. In order to complete this, product development, validation studies, pre-commercial actions are needed, our business plan shall be updated, and the knowledge shall be spread among stakeholders (pre-marketing).
During the second project period, we finalised the validation of PestiSi solution under operating conditions at our warehouses. The performance of the PestiSi mixing system was confirmed, as homogenous distribution of the PestiSi powder was observed in different grains. The efficiency of the treatment was also confirmed, as no insects were found even during long-term storage of grains (wheat, maize and barley) at high temperature (spring and early summer). We initialized product permitting at the corresponding authorities. We have also improved our logistic framework for the exploitation purpose of PestiSi and agreed with potential suppliers, OEM producers and two distributors. We have successfully demonstrated the efficiency of the PestiSi method in a milling experiment, which confirmed, that the flour produced from the wheat treated with PestiSi has identical quality to the flour produced form the wheat of the same quality without PestiSi treatment. We carried out several demonstration events at our premises, as well as at interested partners and different events. We have filed a patent application and registered a European Trademark at EPO. We have developed a business plan including a detailed financial plan. Finally, we spread the results to the professional audience using several channels, most importantly on-line (webpage, social media, on-line publications). As a result, we received some concrete orders for the PestiSi product.
The key novelty of our innovation, compared to traditional insecticides, that it is natural, contains no artificial chemicals, it has no effect on mammalians and humans, and it can be applied under organic circumstances. The novelty is given by the nature, the size and shape of the diatomite crystals making our product superior to other, less effective, silica compounds. The main results of this project are the standardized, effective method validated at operational environment, and a strong market entry strategy supported by an updated business plan and various demonstrations. The success of our project would have large market impact, as it would make possible safer, insect-free long-term storage, thus helping small traders to adopt easier to market trends and thus facilitate world-wide grain trading. A successful project realization would contribute to paving the way towards a future toxic-free agriculture.
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