The main objective of the FocusLab greenRelease is to significantly reduce fungicide and herbicide usage and thereby contributing to a sustainable agriculture and bioeconomy. In the course of the project, we developed the greenRelease technology (initiated in the BioSC projects: GreenGel, RIPE, and BiFuProts) into a robust and field validated platform technology for plant protection. The technology was applied and finally validated in field trials that were independently performed by the chamber of agriculture from North Rhine-Westphalia in 2020. We achieved the same protection against the Apple Scab disease with a significantly reduced fungicide usage (3-fold compared to commercial products). In parallel, a regulatory and economic assessment of the technology was performed and we currently evaluate the technology transfer potential of the greenRelease technology.
Many pesticides have an inherent weakness: The active ingredients do not adhere sufficiently to the plants intended to be protected and are washed off by rain into the soil as well as into the ground water. To overcome these drawbacks of conventional pesticides, the greenRelease technology was developed. Its unique technical application characteristics are based on the combination of biocompatible microgel containers (100 nm to 10 µm) and anchor peptides. Microgels are soft porous polymer colloids, which can be loaded with active ingredients and can attach through tailor-made anchor peptides on plant leaves at ambient temperature by simple spray applications. Main advantages of the greenRelease technology over existing release technologies are the controlled, triggered release of compounds over weeks or even months, minimized losses due to a high rainfastness, plant compatibility, and most importantly tunable biodegradability.
Within the FocusLab greenRelease, biotechnologists, polymer chemists, plant scientists, microbiologists, and economists join forces to achieve the goal of a field validated release technology that enable the significant reduction of pesticide usage. The development and production of microgels that release active compounds as well as the identification of anchor peptides binding to the selected target plants was achieved in 2018. The first priority was the loading and release of copper as active compound (fungicide) within the microgels. Other priorities were initial application tests of microgels, anchor peptides, and anchor peptide-microgel hybrids to establish assays and validation systems and to perform application, degradation as well as microbial response tests. In 2019, the production was scaled up in order to serve the demands (120 L formulation) of the field trials that were performed in 2020.
The greenRelease technology provided a rainfast protection of sugar beet and apple under controlled conditions with 40-times reduced copper amounts compared to commercial formulations. greenRelease did not show any negative influence on plant growth and microorganisms were identified that can potentially degrade the microgels (further investigations are performed). Finally, we validated the technology in field trials that were performed by the chamber of agriculture in an apple orchard. We showed that a 3-fold reduction of copper compared to commercial formulation was sufficient to prevent Apple Scab disease.
Based on different workshops and expert interviews, we developed a business plan and participated in the business plan competition “Biogründer-Wettbewerb” of Biosecurity GmbH. Here, the greenRelease technology fully convinced the jury and took the 1st place. The generated results together with the feedback from workshops as well as the expert interviews and the farmer survey show the high transfer potential of the technology.
More Information: Technology transfer and market potential
The postulated goal to develop a field validated release technology was successfully achieved by the partners and the greenRelease technology is now ready for innovations and follow up projects for a sustainable agriculture.
Dr. Felix Jakob
ABBt - Biotechnology, RWTH Aachen University
Prof. Dr. Ulrich Schwaneberg, Dr. Felix Jakob, Christin Brethauer, Liudmyla Goncharenko
ABBt – Biotechnology, RWTH Aachen
Prof. Dr. Uwe Conrath, Dr. Caspar Langenbach, Patrick Schwinges
ABBt – Plant Physiology, RWTH Aachen
Prof. Dr. Andrij Pich, Alexander Töpel, Tim Sassmann, Xu Wenjing
ITMC – Functional and Interactive Polymers, RWTH Aachen
Prof. Dr. Stefanie Bröring, Dr. Michael Wustmans
ILR – Technology, Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship,
Prof. Dr. Georg Groth, Dr. Alexander Hofmann
Institute of Biochemical Plant Physiology, HHU Düsseldorf
Prof. Dr. Holger Gohlke, Jonas Dittrich
Computational Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Molecular Bioinformatics, HHU Düsseldorf
Prof. Dr. Georg Noga, Dr. Shyam Pariyar
INRES – Horticultural Science, Universität Bonn
Prof. Dr. Claudia Knief, Janina Zierul, Romy Geer
INRES – Molecular Biology of the Rhizosphere, Universität Bonn
Prof. Dr. Ulrich Schurr, Dr. Fabio Fiorani, Dr. Henning Lenz
IBG-2 Plant Sciences, Forschungszentrum Jülich
01.01.2018 – 30.06.2021
The total budget of the greenRelease FocusLab was € 2,337,095.00. The greenRelease FocusLab is part of the NRW-Strategieprojekt BioSC and thus funded by the Ministry of Culture and Science of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia.