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A UK agri-tech SME has developed the first, in-situ early detection technology for plant disease with huge potential to improve crop yields and guide sustainable use of pesticides globally. The company seeks partners for joint development of specific applications under joint venture, research cooperation, finance and technical cooperation agreements. It also seeks partners to exploit the market opportunities across the world through commercial agreements with technical cooperation.
Given the ever growing challenge of producing sufficient food to feed the global population, the significant damage caused to crops by water and soil-borne plant disease is a major issue the world over. One estimate suggests that 12% of crops are lost through fungal diseases alone irrespective of other factors. Currently such diseases can only be identified once visible symptoms are apparent in the crop. By then the disease has taken hold rendering subsequent intervention largely ineffective. This situation also leads to excessive use of fungicidal and pesticide treatments as precautionary measures leading to waste, pesticide resistance and significant environmental damage.
A UK agri-tech start-up SME linked to an internationally renowned research centre has developed a unique, patent protected, technology platform that will provide the first in-situ, early detection devices for soil and water borne plant pathogens. The device is simply inserted into the soil and the grower is alerted to the presence of pathogenic spores either by a colour change or warning light in the device itself before the growing plants are infected. Thus very specific and cost effective soil treatment can be applied in order to protect the crop from infestation.
The platform technology has been demonstrated and, supported by UK research and development funding, extensive field trials are underway. Early applications relate to the detection of oomycetes (Phytophthora and Pythium species which are responsible for diseases such as late potato blight and those affecting horticultural crops and protected crops). Further work is underway with a wireless sensor technology partner to develop remote monitoring capability for the devices.
The UK company now wishes to work with partners operating in the agri-tech sector in order to develop applications for specific crops in particular market sectors. Research cooperation, technical cooperation, joint venture and finance agreements are offered for partners who have their own research & development capabilities for field testing of these specific applications. This activity might include pathogenic species identification, laboratory greenhouse testing and field trials relevant to the specific crops of interest to the partner. Commercial agreements with technical assistance are offered for partners wishing to act as agents or distributors for those applications already developed.
• The first, patented in-situ devices for early detection of soil and water borne pathogens leading to effective treatment minimising crop losses due to plant disease.
• Cost effective and simple to use means that the technology has potential across many different crops in many different global markets.
• Early disease detection ensures a far more efficient and targeted use of fungicides and pesticides preventing over-use of these treatments leading to significant environmental benefits and limiting the development of resistance to pesticides.
The platform technology has been developed and demonstrated in extended soil/substrate based trials in the laboratory and in glasshouses. There is currently a programme of extensive field trials underway. Early results from that confirm the initial indications of the efficacy shown in the laboratory and glasshouse feasibility trials.
A patent has been granted in the UK and is filed in the EU and 9 other countries. A second patent application is in PCT stage.
• Agronomists, agrochemical companies, producer groups and large growers’ cooperatives who have capability to engage in the field tests of crop specific and market specific applications under joint venture, finance, research cooperation and technical cooperation agreements. This joint development activity might include relevant pathogenic species identification, testing and field trials for the particular crops of interest to the partner organisation.
• Farming supply companies and food producing groups interested in developing sales of devices already developed for specific crop applications under commercial agreements with technical assistance.