ECOZEO  
"DEVELOPING A POOL OF NOVEL AND ECO-EFFICIENT APPLICATIONS OF ZEOLITE FOR THE AGRICULTURE SECTOR"

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The Project > Description

 

ECO-ZEO is a FP7 European Project which aims the development of a new pool of GREEN CROP PROTECTION PRODUCTS (efficient, environmentally friendly and sustainable) for agriculture, to be used as a coating of leaves and fruits in different type of vegetable and fruit crops: tomato, apple, citrus and table grape.

Such green products will deliver a wide range of beneficial effects in terms of water use efficiency, control of pests and diseases, reduction in pesticides use, increase of crop yield and tolerance to abiotic stress (water and heat stress).

The ECO-ZEO products will rely on:

-Innovative application of Zeolite 4A to the surface of leaves and fruits.

-Adapted strategies for sustainable crop protection (such as chromatic masking, behavior interference and biocontrol) and novel use of sustainable active ingredients and pigments.

-New configurations of additives to enhance performance of the coating (physic-cemical properties).

As a result, the novel ECO-ZEO compositions will be made of three types of ingredients: Zeolite 4A, active ingredients for target-specific plant protection (main pests and diseases) and additives/adjuvants for enhanced efficacy and physico-chemical performance. Once applied on the plant, benefits are expected on:

  1. Crop yield. Zeolite 4A layer over leaves captures actively atmospheric CO2 and preconcentrates it in the mesophyll, increasing its availability for the RuBisCo enzyme, and therefore promoting the photosynthetic yield.
  2. Protection against heat stress. The particles of zeolite 4A protect the surface of the plant from sun´s UVB /UVC radiation and reduce the superficial temperature, thus protecting the functional integrity of the photosynthetic machinery and reducing the risk of “sun burn” and subsequent crop losses.
  3. Water efficiency. The coating entails a double effect regarding water consumption: it is expected to reduce excess evapotranspiration and to increase the efficient use of water by the crop.
  4. Control of pests and fungal diseases. The ability of zeolite 4A to capture free water on plant´s surface can enable ECO-ZEO products to create a hostile environment for fungi development and for pest larvae and eggs viability since the coating acts as a drier as soon as condensation is produced (specially in greenhouses production systems).

On the other hand, active ingredients used in ECO-ZEO endow the coating with persistent effects against pests. In addition, the coating can make difficult the recognition of the plant by the adult insects and other phytophagous, since the colouring and texture of plant surface are altered.

  1. Target-specific. Different configurations of complementary active ingredients and additives will lead to a range of ECO-ZEO target-specific products with optimum effects in different crops, stressors and scenarios.
  2. Shorter seasonal phenology. The more efficient CO2 fixation mechanisms induced by the functional features of the coating can induce shorter growing seasons which may lead to benefits for the farmer.
  3. Safety. The novel compositions will be fully traceable and safe for the environment and for human health, regarding the exposure of operators as well as the consumption of fresh produce.

ECO-ZEO formulations will be lab and field trialed on set target crops and threats (pest and diseases). Within the scope of the project, priority has been given to apple, tomato, table grape and orange; in terms of scientific, environmental, socioeconomic and business potential interests.

ECO-ZEO is focused on the main pests and diseases that threat them, from several points of view: vulnerability of crop, economic value of treatments, average production losses, and effectiveness of commercial pesticides.

Selected Crops and Targeted Main Threats under ECO-ZEO:

Once lab and field trials conclude, the best performing solutions will be validated through demonstration with European farmers as they are real end users of developed formulations.

At the same time, one of the main added values of ECO-ZEO is achieve both environmental and economic sustainability. Sustainability, eco-efficiency and Life-Cycle analyses will be performed throughout the project.

Partners

A complete multidisciplinary Consortium composed of 10 partners from 8 different countries (European Union and Associated countries) has joined to reach all these challenges. An alliance of academia (4 research organizations), 4 agro-biotech SMEs, plant protection product industry and the important contribution of end users represented by an association of fruits and vegetables producers.

The UE funding amounts a total of 2,014 M€ and the project will last 4 years starting 1st March 2012.

 



 

ECOZEO Consortium

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