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Project name:

Spanish SME offers organic fertiliser based on Tenebrio molitor insect frass for organic agriculture under commercial, technical and research cooperation agreement.

Status: Idea
Creation date: 27-10-2021

Project objectives:

Summary

Spanish SME produces Tenebrio molitor insect frass which is the first insect derived fertiliser registered for organic agriculture. It shows outstanding chemical and microbiological properties which have proved beneficial for plants by increasing their abiotic resistance to harsh climate conditions and improving their health and immune system. The SME is interested in commercial, technical and especially in research cooperation under LIFE 2021 programme with academia or industry.

 

Description

Spanish SME established in 2014 is devoted to breeding the Tenebrio molitor insect at industrial scale, transformation and commercialisation of derived co-products. The company´s expertise gained over the years enables the optimisation of methodologies for its production lines using equipment of proprietary design which is currently under patent application processes. Its activities show 90% reduction in energy and water use and CO2 emissions compared to traditional livestock farming. The SME is a current reference in the European insect industry and the first Spanish company authorised to breed insects at industrial scale. Its Tenebrio molitor frass was the first insect product registered as fertiliser for organic agriculture.

The European Commission established a 50% reduction in the use of pesticides and 20% reduction in the use of chemical fertilisers by 2030 as one of its main pillars of its Farm2Fork strategy. The use of organic fertilisers would contribute to address these challenge and lead to a more sustainable and greener agricultural sector. In this scenario, the SME produces insect frass (100% of biological origin) suitable for organic agricultural production according to Regulation (EC) 883/2007.

The Tenebrio molitor organic fertiliser, in addition to its nutrient value (N-P-K values = 5-4-3), it is a natural product against pest and bacteria (eg. it provides prevention against mould or pathogens). Previous research works and collaborations proved the following benefits by this frass:
- Bio-stimulant: its microbiota and chitin content promote nutrients uptake by the plants through a quick solubilisation of phosphorous and potassium in soil as well as fixation of atmospheric nitrogen.
- Growth promotion: the biological activity of this frass produces auxins such as indole acetic acid (IAA) which increases cellular division and growth rates up to 30% in some plants.
- Plant resistance to abiotic stress: this frass also produces the "ACC deaminase enzyme" which significantly improves the stress tolerance in plants under harsh environmental conditions (cold, salinity, water scarcity or excess, etc.).
- Inhibition of pathogens: this product proved its ability to inhibit pathogens from bacteria and fungi such as Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, Rhizoctonia solani, Fusarium, etc. This property is derived from its presence of chitin from the insect gut.
- Preserves agricultural soil: its high content in organic matter (>70%) with humic acids and an optimum carbon/nitrogen (C/N) ratio improves the quality and durability of agricultural soil.

The applications of insect frass are not limited and it can be used in different forms. Despite the application of organic fertilisers is not new, the microbiological activity of this disruptive product described above involves unrivalled advantages for certain agricultural uses such as ecological products for intensive crop farming. Actually, it showed an excellent performance when applied to fruits and vegetables such as carrots, peppers, tomatoes, chards and others.

The company is seeking collaboration with other SMEs, large companies and academia from the agri-food and agrochemicals sector under commercial agreement with technical assistance and technical cooperation agreement, being able to engage with large agricultural exploitations or agri-food producers to develop novel insect frass derived products. The partners would need to be committed to innovation and introduction of new products aligned with the EU´s policies described in the Green Deal and Farm2Fork strategies.

The SME is also interested in research cooperation agreement under LIFE 2021 programme. The company contributions would include systematic studies and analysis of different aspects of plant growth and resistance to pests or pathogens.

 

Advantages & innovations

Traditional fertilisers have been based on either chemical products or organic excrements from cattle. Chemical fertilisers depend on fossil sources and generate greenhouse emissions while contributing to nitrification and nitrogen leaching in soils. Alternative manure-derived fertilisers face issues due to the potential presence of pathogens and slow nutrients release. By contrast insect frass is a disruptive organic fertiliser with different innovations and advantages such as: - Protection of agricultural soil due to its high content in organic matter and C/N composition ratio. - Its biological origin avoids the use of fossil resources and subsequent generation of pollutant emissions contributing to a sustainable and environmentally friendly agriculture. - The proven absence of pathogens in its composition (eg. salmonella or E. coli) avoids safety concerns in other organic fertilisers while promoting faster nutrient uptake than conventional organic products (humus, chicken manure, guano, etc). - Further advantages of this novel insect frass are derived from its unique biological composition including beneficial chitin, bacteria and microorganisms. These proved to play a dual role in plant growth and fruit production while enhancing their immune system. - Such unrivalled characteristics help decrease the amount of fertilisers along with pesticides demanded by the agricultural sector while protecting soils from excess nitrification and leaching of harmful pesticide components.

 

Stage of development

Already on the market

Contact/ source: Enterprise Europe Network (europa.eu)

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