Bio4safe – reducing water and fertiliser inputs in horticulture by making use of commercially available biostimulants and innovative plant sensors

InteregThe 2 Seas Region (coastal region across the southern North Sea and The Canal) is known for its intensive horticulture which demandssignificant amounts of water and nutrients. Several EU directives aim to protect water quality by preventing N and P leaching and anticipate to water shortage. Besides these legislative environmental pressures, economic reasons force growers to reduce water and nutrient input. This project aims to improve water and fertilizer use efficiency of plants by using biostimulants (seaweed extracts and beneficial microbes. The combination of biostimulants and innovative plant sensors will result in a reduced input of water and fertilizers by 20% respectively 10%. The project includes demonstration trials on different horticultural crops (lettuce, tomato, hydrangea, strawberry, tulips, chrysanthemum, raspberry) in the four countries to promote the use of biostimulants to diverse target groups. Further, the potential of using biostimulants based on seaweeds in horticulture will be analysed, in order to create economic opportunities for seaweed producers in the 2 Seas Region.Strawberry Pollination using caffeine
Today, every Member State has its own regulation on commercialising biostimulants. By 2020, the EU will implement a common European legal framework for the trade of biostimulants, but it remains unclear how positive effects of biostimulants on water and nutrient use efficiency of plants should be quantified. Therefore, with this project, we aim to create a standardised protocol that can be used by accredited laboratories to objectively evaluate the impact of biostimulants on water and fertilizer use efficiency of plants.

The project is coordinated by PCS Ornamental Plant Research (Belgium) and includes 7 other partners including Research Station Proeftuin Zwaagdijk (NL), North Sea Farm Foundation (NL), Yncréa Hauts de France, establishment ISA Lille (France),  Vegetables Pole Region North (France), NIAB (UK) and Dove Associates (UK) and Ghent University (Belgium).  The Bio4safe-project runs for a period of four years and is funded by Europe via the Interreg 2 Seas Programme and the Province East Flanders, Belgium.

The objectives of BIO4SAFE are:

  • To reduce water input in horticultural crops by 20%
  • To reduce fertilizer input in horticultural crops by 10%
  • To develop a protocol for policy makers to measure the impact of biostimulants on fertilizer and water use efficiency of plants
  • To elaborate a market study to calculate the economic potential of sea weed based biostimulants for sea weed producing companies in the region

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The NIAB EMR contact for the Bio4safe project is: Prof Xiangming Xu


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