UB researchers awarded AGAUR-LLAVOR grant to develop organic biostimulant to improve legume quality and yield

The University of Barcelona, through its technology and innovation transfer office the Bosch i Gimpera Foundation, has been awarded a €20,000 AGAUR-LLAVOR grant for a project to create a new product to boost legume quality and yield that is compatible with organic-agriculture requirements. The project is led by Dr Sergi Munné, professor in the Department of Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences of the UB Faculty of Biology. UB researcher Núria F. Bermejo is also taking part as the scientific entrepreneur.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation and other international bodies have established that current production of meat as a source of protein is unsustainable given global climate change, which is threatening our water resources. To tackle this challenge, the agriculture sector needs to implement strategies to boost productivity of protein-rich crops like legumes and also improve the protein quality of these products.

With this Llavor grant, the project aims to develop CAFPROM, a biostimulant (product that stimulates the natural processes of plants to benefit their physiological processes) that brings twofold improvement to legumes: on the one hand, in terms of plant yield, and, on the other, in nutritional quality, with more protein, iron, antioxidants, and other nutrients.

There are already biostimulants that could potentially be used with legumes, but many of them are based on inorganic minerals that are not compatible with organic farming and, in large doses, could contaminate soil and water, jeopardising the environment. However, the active ingredient in this new product is an organic substance compatible with sustainable vegetable growing. So, CAFPROM could also be used in organic farming, a sector that needs new strategies to improve yield and be economically viable.

Now, the researchers aim to validate the properties of the new product in controlled greenhouse conditions. The project, with reference number 2021 LLAV 00078, has received a Knowledge Industry Grant in the category ‘Llavor grants for innovative projects with the potential for being incorporated into the production sector’.

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