Healthy plants, good harvests

A research team from RWTH Aachen University has developed a technology to reduce the global use of fungicides and herbicides. For more sustainability in agriculture.

Pesticides help to protect crops. With the aid of chemical substances, they destroy other plants that are considered harmful to the success of harvests – fungi or weeds, for example. The catch: in doing their “work”, pesticides often destroy biodiversity, which means they are also a poison for the environment overall. Researchers from RWTH Aachen University want to prevent this destruction and have launched the “greenRelease” project to reduce the use of fungicides and herbicides worldwide. They registered their development “Plant protection and/or plant growth promotion system” with the German Patent and Trademark Office in 2015. 

greenRelease: farsighted plant protection

The team led by Felix Jakob, Ulrich Schwaneberg, and Andrij Pich has developed biodegradable mini containers made of microgels, with which plant protecting agents can be applied in a targeted manner to crops and released over a period of weeks. The microgel containers are attached using peptides that adhere to the surface of the plant’s leaves. The active ingredients are released slowly and very efficiently, unlike in other applications. This reduces the environmental impact. The researchers won the 2018 BioRegionen Innovation Award, which carries prize money of €2,000, at the German Biotechnology Days in Berlin.

(Header: zhukovvvlad – AdobeStock)

Place of invention

DWI – Leibniz-Institut für Interaktive Materialien e.V., Forckenbeckstr. 50, 52074 Aachen