Plant materials contain an abundance of organic components. The effects of some of these components are already known; in many cases, however, they have yet to be investigated. We take advantage of this potential by specifically searching for active ingredients that could have an impact on pests.
Copper-based preparations are frequently applied in both organic and conventional farming to control fungal diseases. In organic viticulture, for instance, "downy mildew" (Plasmopara viticola) is often controlled using agents containing this heavy metal. To prevent the accumulation of copper in soils, and the associated environmental damage, the EU is keen to enforce a ban on these agents. We therefore endeavour to produce plant protection products from natural residues that could take the place of copper in agriculture.
To this end, the substances contained in residues, such as grape pomace, are being analysed and extracted. In the next step, it is intended to test the extracts gained with regard to their effectiveness against various pests, initially in the laboratory (in vitro), then in the greenhouse and ultimately in the field under realistic conditions. In addition to actual effectiveness, we will also investigate issues regarding formulations and optimum concentrations. We ultimately aim to create an effective product for use in organic farming. Due to the decentralised production of the extract, it will be possible to supply wine-growers with a plant protection product ideally obtained from his own pomace. This is an ideal form of closed-loop recycling management.
Since the active ingredients make up only a small part of the pomace, residues can still subsequently be used for energy, e.g. as pellets. The former waste material grape pomace could then be used as raw material in several ways, within the meaning of "biocascading", signifying a considerable added value.