Insect-repellent fertiliser for organic use
A sustainable, combined fertiliser and insect repellent suitable for organic farming has been engineered by a Norwegian company, helped by researchers in Germany and Hungary.
Made from cyanobacteria and fermentation residues from biogas facilities, the Fertibug product is good for the soil and does not harm bees or earthworms, says the company, Bioskiva.
They aimed to help organic farmers keep their plants safe from pests without chemical inputs.
For example, cabbage root flies lay their eggs in the spring and autumn on freshly planted greens, and an entire harvest could be lost. Now offered as a solution, the combined fertiliser and insect repellent pellets primarily consist of fermentation residues from biogas production, but they also contain 0.1% cyanobacteria, says Dr Ulrike Schmid-Staiger, group manager at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology (IGB) in Germany. Scientists from IGB worked with researchers from the University of West Hungary, and several organic agriculture associations, and their EU-funded research findings were taken up by Bioskiva and developed into a product.
When the pellets are placed around vegetable plants, soil flora degrade the cyanobacteria, which release a scent that repels cabbage root flies.
The fermentation residues, which are rich in nutrients, also fertilise the plants.
The fermentation residues come from organic farm biogas plants which can generate 300 litres of biogas from a kilogram of organic dry mass in two weeks.
Residues that cannot be further fermented are dried and used for the pellets.
The research team used only light, carbon dioxide and mineral nutrients to cultivate cyanobacteria.
The pellets have been tested in open-field studies in Spain and Hungary.
The researchers found that the cabbage root flies did not attack any of the growing cabbage or kohl rabi, and that the pellets had a significant fertilising effect.
The next phase is to get approval by the European Commission for this brand new approach.
Meanwhile, Bioskiva is seeking partners to get the product to market.
See www.fertibug.eu/fertibug-research/research-results for more information.
The cabbage fly is one of the pests targeted by a new combined fertiliser and insect repellent suitable for organic farming.