EXCALIBUR - Exploiting the multifunctional potential of belowground biodiversity in horticultural farming

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EXCALIBUR - Exploiting the multifunctional potential of belowground biodiversity in horticultural farming

Excalibur plans to deepen the knowledge on soil biodiversity dynamics and its synergistic effects with prebiotic and probiotic approaches in horticulture, using a multi-actor approach. To pursue this aim, new multifunctional soil microbial inoculants (bio-inocula) and bio-effectors will be tested on three model crops of economic importance (es. tomato, apple, strawberry) under different experimental and open-field conditions across Europe, and the feed-feedback effect of/on native biodiversity monitored. In order to go beyond the multitude of studies on the links between soil biodiversity and plant health, Excalibur will develop a comprehensive strategy of soil management improving the effectiveness of biocontrol and biofertilization practices in agriculture. This knowledge will be used to create a model to optimize formulations and application methods of multifunctional microbial-based products and bio-effectors in order to obtain healthier crops with reduced use of mineral fertilizers and chemical pesticides while preserving the native biodiversity.

For this purpose Excalibur plans to: 1) focus on multiscale interactions between plants and belowground organisms to exploit the potential of multifunctional bio-inocula and bio-effectors; 2) optimize the formulation and the application methods of these products based on native soil biodiversity dynamics; 3) develop a strategy to improve the exploitation of soil biodiversity interactions with bio-effectors and bio-inocula by assessing their impacts on crops and biodiversity under contrasting agricultural management practices (conventional, organic) and biotic/abiotic stress conditions; 4) to build a multi-criteria model to assess soil biodiversity status of cropping systems for a more efficient use of bio-effectors and bio-inocula; 5) develop technical tools to monitor the persistence and dispersion of bio-inocula under field conditions for eco-toxicological and agronomical purposes; 6) evaluate the effects of the new strategy on economy, environment quality and ecosystem functions; 7) disseminate results to all stakeholders with a dynamic and comprehensive methodology and encourage the adoption of best practices derived from the new strategy at local, regional and global level.

Project funded by the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme of the European Union (GA 817946)

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Only materials derived from EXCALIBUR project and agreed by EXCALIBUR Consortium will be permitted. 

May 23, 2020
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