Sustainable protection of vegetables against soil diseases: a revolutionary approach

Projecttitel: Sustainable protection of vegetables against soil diseases: a revolutionary approach
Projectnummer: LWV19179
Missie: Kringlooplandbouw
MMIP: A2 - Gezonde, robuuste bodem en teeltsystemen gebaseerd op agro-ecologie en zonder schadelijke emissies naar grond- en oppervlaktewater
Looptijd: 2020 – 2024
Projectleider: Kirsten Leiss

Background:
Thiram, a dithiocarbamate, is a common compound of seed coatings to prevent soil-borne fungal diseases among a variety of crops. Thiram will be banned by the European Union because of its’ environmental side effects. The ban will impact crop protection in The Netherlands, and abroad, severely, unless a suitable alternative will be available. The search for such an alternative has been started. An alternative of Thiram should, of course, be efficacious against a range of soil-borne fungal diseases. In addition, its’ anti-fungal activity should be restricted to the surface of the seed and emerging plant, respectively. If not, it may cause unwanted side effects on the environment.

Aim:
A proof-of-concept of an inherently safe bio-fungicide to control pathogenic soil fungi in vegetables.

Novelty/innovation:
The topic of an inherently safe application has hardly been addressed so far in developing bio-pesticides. Binding natural compounds to bio-degradable nanostructures offers excellent opportunities of an inherently safe application, as demonstrated in medicine already. This approach has been picked-up in agriculture very recently confirming the great opportunities.

Impact:
The vegetable sector is in urgent need for an alternative of Thiram. In addition, the sector faces the challenge to turn to sustainable crop protection. Inherently safe bio-pesticides constitute the missing piece in sustainable crop protection based on resilient crops. Binding a bio-active compound to, and uptake by, a plant in efficacious amounts is a scientific challenge. Publication of the intended proof-of-concept will trigger similar R&D for sure. Society will profit at last by the availability of sufficient vegetables produced in a sustainable way.