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Researchers from the Institute for Environmental Solutions (IES) will develop plant-based insect repellents from essential oil extraction by-products. The researchers foresee that in the future plant-based insect repellents could replace chemical pesticides used in farming.


In conventional farming, the insects are commonly controlled by using chemical pesticides, but in organic farming it is prohibited. Currently, the support for organic farming is increasing, mainly due to growing concern about the health and environmental risks caused by chemical pesticides. At the same time, in recent years, the use of chemical pesticides in Latvia has increased slightly, but gradually. Similar tendency can be observed in the European Union (EU). Therefore, EU member countries have developed the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030. The strategy has set an aim to decrease the use of chemical pesticides by 50 % until 2030. Nevertheless, changes in the use of pesticides in Latvia and the EU are not taking place at sufficient speed.

IES researchers will develop plant-based bioactive insect repellent as an alternative to chemical pesticides. To achieve it IES will cooperate with organic farming and essential oil extraction experts SIA “Field and Forest”. The developed insect repellent will be suitable for both conventional and organic farming.

 

 

The first step for development of plant-based repellent will be chemical evaluation and characterization of extracts from essential oil distillation process by-products. Afterwards, bioactive insect repellent will be created in IES chemical analysis laboratory. From medicinal and aromatic plant essential oil production process SIA “Field and Forest” will obtain by-products which still contain compounds of biologically active substances. Then, IES researchers will use the by-products to create bioactive insect repellent.

The second step of the research will be testing of plant-based insect repellent in IES practical entomology laboratory to determine the effects on insects. Researchers will evaluate the effect on green peach aphid, greenhouse whitefly and cabbage butterfly. These species cause significant damage to agriculture, both in Latvia and in other countries. Moreover, they are feeding from multiple agricultural crops simultaneously, thus they can do more harm than other pests in our region.

Finally, the third step of this research will be insect repellent testing on different plant species. The tests will be carried out in IES crop research laboratory. For testing insect repellent on plants, researchers have chosen two plants – cucumbers and cabbages. They are commonly known as feeding sources for green peach aphid, greenhouse whitefly and cabbage butterfly. During this step, the researchers will test how the use of developed insect repellent impact plant development, for example, their weight, leaf growth and the amount of chlorophyll.

The research is a part of the project “Essential oil distillation waste streams as a potential source of sustainable plant-based repellent products” (No. Nr. 1.1.1.1/20/A/096). It is developed as a part of the European Regional Development Fund programme 1.1.1.1 measure “Support for applied research” and specific objective 1.1.1 “Improve research and innovation capacity and the ability of Latvian research institutions to attract external funding, by investing in human capital and infrastructure”.

More about the project here.

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Essential oil distillation waste streams as a potential source of sustainable plant-based repellent products
Nr. 1.1.1.1/20/A/096

In conventional farming, the insects are usually controlled by using chemical pesticides. In organic farming it is prohibited. Currently, there is a growing concern about the health and environmental risks caused by pesticides.  Therefore, the support for organic farming is increasing. The European Union (EU) in the Biodiversity Strategy has set an aim to decrease the use of chemical pesticides by 50 % until 2030. Plant-based insect repellents are alternative to chemical pesticides. Historically, plant products have been successfully used as insect repellents. Moreover, various previous researcher papers highlight the use of organic repellents derived from different medicinal plant extracts.

The cultivation and processing by-products with high added value potential across the whole production chain are often discarded as waste due to a variety of factors. The underutilisation of this valuable resource has negative effects on both the environmental and economic sustainability of agriculture. A systematic look across the whole production chain can identify new solutions for moving towards a waste-free and self-contained production. SIA “Field and Forest” medicinal and aromatic plant essential oil distillation process cultivates a large amount of by-products but the potential is not yet researched.

Objective

To develop high added value agricultural insect repellents for organic farming against green peach aphid (Myzus persicae), greenhouse whitefly (Trialeurodes vaporariorum), and cabbage butterfly (Pieris brassicae) from medicinal and aromatic plant (chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla), caraway (Carum carvi) and pine (Pinus sylvestris)) essential oil extraction by-products. The secondary objective is to gain know-how for the development and testing of other organic pest repellents.

Activities

  • Development of plant-based insect repellent product that includes chemical evaluation and characterization of essential oil distillation process by-products – pine, chamomile and caraway extracts.

  • Testing of plant-based insect repellent in the laboratory to determine the effects on green peach aphid, greenhouse whitefly and cabbage butterfly.

  • Insect repellent testing in the laboratory on cucumber and cabbage plants.

  • Development of product prototype with agricultural insect repellent activity against green peach aphid, greenhouse whitefly and cabbage butterfly. The product must be compatible with conventional and organic farming practices.

  • Knowledge transfer to the general public as well as the scientific community and practitioners.


Results

  • At least one plant-based insect repellent product prototype developed compatible with organic farming regulations. Repellent prototypes for each of the 3 insect species will be created, however primary objective is to develop one prototype that would repel all 3 insect species.

  • Gained know-how on the development of insect repellents for organic farming.


Duration: 1st of February 2021 – 30th of November 2023

Leading partner: Institute for Environmental Solutions

Partner: SIA “Field and forest”

Project scientific manager: PhD Laura Pastare, laura.pastare@videsinstituts.lv

Funded by European Regional Development Fund, as a part of 1.1.1.1 measure “Support for applied research” and specific objective 1.1.1 “Improve research and innovation capacity and the ability of Latvian research institutions to attract external funding, by investing in human capital and infrastructure”, Nr. 1.1.1.1/20/A/096 and project partners.

Total budget: 695 993.04 EUR. ERAF covers 499 781.81 EUR of the total budget costs. Rest is co-funded by project partners.

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