Research and development project strongly focused on collaboration with operators (farmers and manufacturers) to develop new technologies and means (fertilizers, pesticides, machines) for organic fruit production. BSDP were linked to environment protection and promotion of consumer health, through a science-based approach, demonstrated and disseminated by an integrated multi-media approach. The crops concerned are among the most important in EU fruit production. The inputs developed (fertilizers and plant protection products) were based on innovative beneficial microorganisms that are expected also to enhance soil environment and plant tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses. Major beneficiaries were growers, manufacturers, advisors and researchers. Several new products, machines, techniques of orchard and nursery management were developed. Information on the effect of organic fruits on human health, economical and market assessment were also obtained.
Research Institute of Horticulture - PolandLead applicant
The research programme of the Institute covers all areas related to horticulture (within four Divisions: Pomology, Vegetable Crops, Floriculture and Apiculture) from basic studies on plant physiology, biochemistry and molecular biology, through biotechnology, creative breeding (including genetic engineering), phytopathology, agronomy, organic horticulture, IPM, fruit and vegetable storage and processing, edible mushroom research, food safety, horticultural engineering, economics and marketing. Since all of the fruits and many vegetable plants are entomophilous and require bees for pollination, bee science was also included in the Institute’s programme. Important part of Institutes activity is also teaching and training as well as extension and implementation of governmental programmes on food safety, development of integrated production, protection of genetic resources and in campaigns aimed at changing nutritional habits toward increased consumption of fruits and vegetables.
University of Warsaw - PolandInitiative partner
The University brings together scholars from a variety of disciplines. It is the place of a diversity of scientific research. Young researchers in direct contact with teachers develop their research awareness and improve their methodological skills. At the same time the University propagates throughout society this multifaceted knowledge and these sophisticated skills. New communication technology allows this propagation to take place regionally, nationally and worldwide. The high level of scientific research, its connection with the education of students and the diversity and attractiveness of our teaching will determine the position of the University in the country and in the world. The University offers undergraduate and doctoral studies, organizes summer schools, postgraduate studies and vocational courses, initiates interdisciplinary programmes and introduces new teaching techniques. The University where many disciplines are cultivated - from mathematical and natural sciences to social and humanistic sciences - is a place where such a symbiosis exists naturally.
Institute of Plant Protection – National Research Isntitute - PolandInitiative partner
The Institute of Plant Protection (IPP) was established by Government Order on 1951. At present, the Institute is an important centre for scientific work, implementation, extension as well as professional education in the general area of crop protection. For over sixty years, the Institute of Plant Protection has been a leader in the development of crop protection technology, by establishing, organizing and implementing, among other projects: monitoring systems for pest and disease occurrence throughout Poland, pesticide registration systems, monitoring of pesticide residues and analytical quality control of plant protection products, use of biological methods for crop protection innovative plant protection programmes for cultivated plants against pests and casual agents of diseases. Its work involves interdisciplinary research on quarantine-restricted and invasive organisms as well as on potential use of genetically modified organisms.
Medical University of Łodz - PolandInitiative partner
The Medical University of Lodz was inaugurated on October 1, 2002 as a merger of two Medical Schools: the Medical Academy of Lodz and the Military Medical Academy of Lodz. In the course of their existence, the Medical Academy and the Military Medical Academy have graduated over 34,000 physicians, dentists, pharmacists and other medical specialists. The Medical University of Lodz is the largest state-owned medical university in Poland whose mission is: educating students in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and medicine-allied disciplines; educating research staff and conducting research work; conducting postgraduate training of highly qualified health care system staff; participating in health care programs set by the social health care system.
An integrated, five-year project aiming at the development of technologies and technical inputs for organic fruit productions, focused to the three major Polish fruit crops (apple, strawberry and sour cherry) has been carried out. The inputs developed (fertilizers and plant protection products) were based on different beneficial microorganisms (rhizosphere bacteria, mycorrhizal fungi), also to further improve soil microbial biodiversity. We have optimized the formulation of the microbial products, to enhance their efficacy, and adapted machines and application techniques to the needs deriving from pluriannual crops. Furthermore, we assessed the economical sustainability of these technologies and their effects on fruits yield and quality. The latter considered both commercial and post-harvest quality, and the effects of the consumption of these fruits on human health.
Following are described the major innovations developed:
1) biofertilizers and organic fertilizers for plant nutrition management based on microbial inocula and organic raw materials;
2) the optimization of methods and products for the biological control of major pests and diseases of the concerned fruit species;
3) the improvement of the methods and technologies for the management of nurseries and orchards, specifically related to plant nutrition;
4) new machines to increase the efficiency in application of fertilizers, soil conditioners, plant protection products;
5) the definition of pro-healthy and nutraceutical properties of organic fruits;
Organic farming is considered an important factor in the Polish strategy for the development of the agricultural sector having regard to the protection of the environment (rich of natural areas and wildlife) and the sustainability of the productions (both in economical and ecological terms). The production of organic fruits is becoming more interesting in Poland due to the increased awareness and demand of the consumers. However, the need of high technical knowledge together with the limited array of inputs available in Poland for the management of the orchard are serious bottlenecks threatening the future development of the sector. The practices and technologies developed within the project shall foster the organic production in Poland, supporting the farmers and the manufactures of innovative products in an economically feasible way. However, considering the similarities with climatic conditions of other countries, the same technologies can be applied to other countries too.
Following are tangible results achieved:
1) isolation and selection of more than 500 strains of beneficial rhizosphere bacteria and several thousand of mycorrhizal spores gathered into the SymBio Bank;
2) 4 biofertilizers and 2 new composts based on recycled food-processing raw materials;
3) 2 new machines for distribution of microbial-based fertilizers and biopesticides;
4) appraisal of the effect of the consumption of organic fruits on human health, through in vivo studies involving voluntary consumer panels tests;
5) Improved knowledge of farmers and advisors on techniques and products based on microorganisms for the management of organic orchards and plantations;
6) Scientific knowledge on organic production and on the mechanisms of action of different inputs.
For more documents, please visit: http://www.inhort.pl/eko/prezentacje-wynikow/publikacje-naukowe-eko
Four groups of peoples have been the beneficiaries of the project, considering their respective needs:
a) Farmers: by providing them with new products, technologies and know-how on their application and better utilization, needed to increase the diffusion of economical feasible organic production;
b) Manufacturers: companies involved in the production of inputs (fertilizers and biopesticides) and of agricultural machines by providing them with new methods for utilizing raw materials in the production process, new microbial strains and new prototypes that shall widen their market share and business opportunities;
c) Agricultural advisors: needing more knowledge on organic production of fruit crops which was provided through trainings, open days, technical and scientific publications;
d) Consumers: informing about the nutraceutical qualities of organic fruits and the effect on body metabolism through organization of events, meetings, participation to fairs and TV programs.
A project leader, supported by a project coordinator, managed the project where about 120 researchers from 4 institutions were involved in different activities. Among them were professors, researchers, PhD students, post-graduate students and technicians. Their experience and know-how spanned in disciplines such as microbiology, plant nutrition and protection, molecular biology, plant physiology, chemistry and biochemistry, agronomy, engineering, economics, fruits post-harvest and quality, pharmaceutics and medicine. The project involved also researchers from private companies, collaborating in the development of the innovative technologies and products (about 10). Agricultural advisors where involved in field trials, and
consumers (about 200) participated in panels for testing effects of the organic fruits on health. Farmers provided their contribution for trials in commercial fields.
Dealing with field trials exposed the project to seasonal problems due to severe late frosts or water scarcity. These have been overcame extending the trials.
Developing new products and machines requested to adapt the initial design and overcome technical issues, not always possible to foresee. A major issue derived from the selection of voluntary panellists participating to the medical trials. The requirements of ethical behaviour, were further aggravated by needs of maintaining a very strict diet by them, which sometime was not easy to follow (e.g. when they had to eat half kilogram of sour cherries every day for 30 days, twice in a 3 months period). However, the flexible approach applied in all activities and the project management structure allowed to achieve the mentioned results.
Regulatory issues derived from the EU legislation were possible to overcome collaborating with Competent Authorities (e.g. Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development) and Certifying Bodies.
The topic of the project (organic farming) is very deeply related to environmental issues. The project has widened its environmental impact by building a bank of soil beneficial microorganisms (ref 1), which, when used in production of biofertilizers, increased the soil biodiversity (e.g. ref 2). This effect has been proved also with the new organic fertilizers (e.g. ref. 3). The transformation of organic wastes from food processes into organic fertilizers can be also considered an important contribution to reduce the environmental impact. For example, the by-products of yeast or cheese production that were previously discarded and needed a long depuration treatment, were transformed into very valuable fertilizers (e.g. ref. 4). Economical studies carried out within the project have demonstrated that applying these organic practices can produce financial externalities which are reducing the overall cost of agricultural production in term of energy and resources savings (ref. 5).
The project has generated till now about 100 scientific publications, dozens of technical publications and dissemination materials. The participation to international scientific conferences and technical meetings presenting the project results is assuring its transferability and promotes the duplicability of its approach. This is also assured by the direct involvement of the farmers and manufacturers, which are expected to exploit the results in the following years. In this respect, one manufacturer has already applied to register the new product developed as fertilizer.
Applications for patents in case of some new machines and technologies have also been submitted, which would widen the timeframe for benefits deriving from the project.
Webpage of the project with pages dedicated to the activities, technologies and products developed: http://www.inhort.pl/eko/strona-glowna
Dissemination was considered key for the success of the project. Beside the website, the project published a quarterly newsletter, informing the readers about activities and results obtained. Several trainings have been organized for farmers and advisors, in almost all agricultural regions of Poland, and during open days where the trials were shown: about 2.500 operators were trained. Participation to national and international fairs dedicated to organic farming, local events and meetings organized by other institutions allowed to further spread the know-how acquired. A short clip on the project has been produced and the project itself was broadcasted by TV programs dealing with scientific innovations. The project was also awarded a gold medal during a national contest on innovation for private and public institutions. Among the technical brochures produced, two dealing with fertilizers and pesticides usable in organic farming were the most requested, printed in 1000 copies.
All dissemination activities are listed in the project website under the page “Aktualnosci” (News) for each year of project development: http://www.inhort.pl/eko/aktualnosci-eko/aktualnosci-2014