ProLarix - Botanical plant protection agent from Larix by-products

Summary

The main objective of ProLarix is to facilitate the translation of an innovation developed under  FP7 project ForestSpeCs from an intriguing concept to a business model for European SMEs in forestry and the agricultural sector.

The potential use of bioactive extracts of by-products of the forest industry was evaluated under FP7 project ForestSpecs. Constituents of Larix by-products  were demonstrated to have a high potential to be developed into a fungicide with

  • high efficacy against a key disease of agriculture,
  • an favourable environmental profile with respect to environmental impact and use of renewable resources, as well as
  • a high potential to generate added value in the forest industry and European production of ‘smart’ crop protection technologies.

Bringing potential plant protection products to the market necessitates substantial investments, yet in the development of the registration dossier and market development. It is therefore essential to provide a priori information in order to predict the scale of investments as well as the time needed for registration of a novel PPP under EU legislation.

ProLarix will therefore

  • pilot production and uses of Larixyne,
  • validate efficacy and demonstrate its value as a PPP in European grapevine production systems,
  • demonstrate the avenue to large scale production of high quality product,
  • fill in data gaps and provide an initial data set to be used for future registration and
  • develop a road map for the development of a full dossier and capture of the market.

Problem & Background

Pests and diseases are a constant threat to agricultural production; climate change will probably escalate their occurrence, prevalence and severity. The availability of chemical agents to combat plant pathogens is limited, since pesticides have proven to be often hazardous for both the environment and human health – use should therefore be reduced or avoided whenever possible. For example, copper is widely used to control devastating plant diseases including downy mildew of grapevine (Plasmopara viticola), late blight of potato and tomato (Phytophthora infestans), apple scab (Venturia inaequalis) and a large range of other crops and plant pathogens. However, copper must be replaced urgently as it has an unfavorable ecotoxicological profile. The alternatives must be sustainable.

Control of pathogens by means of plant-derived PPPs can be an effective, sustainable and environmentally-friendly method for pest management in integrated pest management (IPM) and organic farming systems. Using abundant wood waste as raw material for value-added products such as fungicides has a high business potential and this approach is consistent with the overall EU objectives of sustainable use for renewable bio-resources.

The potential use of bioactive extracts from by-products of the forest industry was the focus of the FP7 ForestSpeCs project. Constituents of Larix by-products were demonstrated to have high potential for development into a fungicide (plant protection product, PPP) with

  • high efficacy against a key disease affecting agriculture,
  • a favourable environmental profile with respect to environmental impact and use of renewable resources, as well as
  • high potential to generate added value in the forest industry and European production of ‘smart’ crop protection technologies.

Prolarix will aim at realising the necessary steps to registration and introduction to the market of this new PPP.

Aim of ProLarix

The overall objective of the ProLarix project is to facilitate the market introduction of an innovative plant protection product made from by-products of the European forest industry. ProLarix will develop and exploit the business opportunities for European plant protection related SMEs and provide an opportunity to the forest industry to transform low value by-products into high value-added, bioactive extracts.  

The specific objectives are to

  • optimise extraction and up-scale the production of standardised technical grade Larix extract;
  • validate the efficacy and integrate Larix extracts in state-of-the-art grapevine production systems;
  • develop a roadmap for registration and market introduction at EU and member state level.

Methodology

ProLarix will provide tools for the analysis of Larix extracts needed in production, quality control and the registration process. High-yield sources for extraction of the active constituents will be identified and the extraction process optimised. A range of lab and field trials will demonstrate the efficacy of Larix extracts on its primary market segment against grapevine downy mildew (Plasmopara viticola) in field conditions, and identify additional fields of application (pathogens, crop commodities). The new extracts will also be integrated and evaluated in current IPM and organic grapevine production systems.

Technologies developed in previous projects will be scaled up from the laboratory to pilot scale, and to full industrial scale production for target compounds.

Bringing Larixyne to the market requires registration of the plant protection product at the EU level as well as registration at member state level. An information package in line with the data requirements laid down in Regulation (EC) No 544/2011 (active substance) and Regulation (EC) No 545/2011 (plant protection product) based on the upcoming ‘guidance document on botanicals used in plant protection products’ (SANCO/11470/2012– rev. 8 February 2014) will be compiled.

Expected results

The ProLarix team expects a range of innovations related to Larix extract and to the production processes to come out of the project.

The team will identify an economically and technically feasible formulation of Larix extract. Validation and demonstration of its efficacy in a wide range of pedo-climatic conditions on grapevine will generate a realistic overview of its potential and limits in real world conditions. The implementation of Larix extract in IPM and organic grapevine production systems will also provide information on ease of use and compatibility with good farming practice in grapevine crop protection. Through evaluation of Larix extract in additional potential target crops, the team will also identify additional market opportunities in plant protection (different disease/crops/countries). Based on the information collected in ProLarix, a roadmap for registration and market introduction of Larix extract will be developed.

Overall concept of ProLarix