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LIFE STIMUL: Seed Treatments to keep Inputs at Minimum Use Level (LIFE STIMUL)
Start date: Aug 1, 2015, End date: Jul 31, 2019 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Background The extreme toxicity of certain pesticides causes risk to human and animal health through direct exposure (e.g. industrial workers producing pesticides and operators using them) or indirect exposure (e.g. food consumers). Chronic exposure leads to effects such as carcinogenicity, mutagenicity and genotoxicity, or adverse effects on the immune or endocrine systems of mammals, fishes or birds. Concerning risks to the environment, spray drift, leaching or run-off lead to pollution of soil and water, with indirect effects on ecosystems (e.g. loss of biodiversity). As a consequence, the EU established rules for the sustainable use of pesticides to reduce risks and impacts on people's health and the environment (Directive 2009/128/EC). Around 70% of freshwater consumed is directed towards agriculture, especially irrigation (roughly 90% of agricultural usage). As the demand for freshwater increases and water scarcity increasingly constrains human and agriculture development, there is a growing need for an improved and more efficient water usage. Objectives The overall aim of LIFE STIMUL is to develop an innovative and ecological seed treatment solution that will enable farmers to reduce their use of fertilisers and water by 15%. The solution consists of a seed coating that will enhance the root growth at the very early stage of plant development. The coating corresponds to a naturally-derived polymer that is already industrially produced. The treatment will be beneficial to plants, helping them to get additional nutrients and/or water when needed. This improved uptake offers an alternative to spraying. Specific project aims are to: Demonstrate that the new seed treatment can be used in combination with existing seed treatments and can be processed within existing seed treatment facilities; and Demonstrate that using this combination of treated seeds delivers reductions in fertiliser and water usage. Expected results: The treatment of 7 000 tonnes of seeds by the end of the LIFE STIMUL project should bring the following expected results: The use of the seed treatment should allow agricultural practices that will induce a reduction of nitrogen fertilisers for corn and wheat by 15%, of pesticide for soybean, corn, wheat and rapeseed by 15%, and of water consumption for irrigated corn by 15%; and In terms of economics, farmers should benefit from higher revenues due to crop yield improvements and the cost-efficient seed treatment process, with an initial estimate on yield giving a 60-100€/ha estimated benefit.

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