Chr. Hansen has secured a grant to fund its partnership with the University of Copenhagen and the Danish Technological Institute developing natural solutions for sustainable agriculture production.
The grant from the Danish Innovation Fund comes at a time when global food demand is sky rocketing and the agricultural sector is faced with boosting productivity whilst reducing its environmental impact.
Henrik Joerck Nielsen, Vice President, Plant Health at Chr. Hansen, said: “With this grant, we join forces with the University of Copenhagen and DTI, to develop cost effective, beneficial bacteria for agricultural production that can spur the conversion away from classical pesticides and fertilizers.
He added: “Beneficial bacteria is a natural way to protect plants and crops, and can contribute to improved crop yield, as well as yield stability within agriculture.”
The €3.9 million project – titled ‘Bac4CroP’ – has just kicked off and will run for 4 years.
The project will include screening of new microbials based on plant and microbiome ‘predictors’, as well as engineering of more efficient and robust products by making bacterial consortia and/or strain ‘breeding’.
Final yield improvement will be tested in global field trials.
Mr Joerck Nielsen said: “Today, there is very little science applied in understanding the mode of action when it comes to microbial solutions in agriculture, which leads to inefficient product development and insufficient products.
“The Bac4CroP project will increase the success rate and decrease the development cost of launching new plant beneficial bacteria as robust products for use in sustainable agricultural production.”
According to the American Academy of Microbiology, microbial solutions to improve plant health have the potential to increase crop productivity by 20% and reduce fertilizer and pesticide requirements by 20% within 20 years.