Faculty of Science scientists will join project to help reduce pesticide consumption

Photo: Ota Blahoušek
Wednesday 15 March 2023, 9:00 – Text: Šárka Chovancová

Scientists from the Department of Chemical Biology of the Faculty of Science will contribute their knowledge and experience in the development of growth regulators to the prestigious research project Biorefining and Circular Economy for Sustainability (BIOCIRKL). The project focuses on the efficient use of waste from agriculture and forestry, reducing pesticide consumption, cultivation of fast-growing energy crops, producing insects for human consumption, and reusing used solar panels. The six-year grant, with a subsidy of CZK 27 million (EUR 1 milion), was supported by the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic.

Palacký University will be involved in this ambitious project by developing biostimulants obtained by innovative hydrolysis methods, fortified with growth regulators. Biostimulants are biologically active substances obtained from natural or waste materials. They can support plant growth or strengthen plant defences. Experts from the Faculty of Science will verify the possibilities of using these special preparations in conventional crop production as well as in the cultivation of energy crops on reclaimed sites.

“We will also deal with the possible use of plant extracts in the protection of crops against diseases and pests. This has potential especially in organic farming, where the use of pesticides is forbidden,” said Radoslav Koprna from the Department of Chemical Biology. The project’s commercial partner for the possible production of these new biostimulants is Trisol Farm, which already produces and distributes biostimulants for agriculture and forestry.

The BIOCIRKL project aims at new products from renewable sources connected to the circular economy strategy, which fits in with the European Green Deal. The joint research has a broad spectrum, including, for example, obtaining growth regulators from green hydrolysate from animal waste, agricultural landfill revegetation using mixed biochar, development of biostimulants for fast-growing woody plants for use in the energy sector, or development of new biopesticides to replace traditional chemical pesticides.

Scientists will also focus on technology for the production of petroleum products through the complete recycling of plastics, the production of insects with a higher nutritional value for human consumption, and the reuse of old solar panels for the production of electricity. “The project plans a large number of functional samples, utility models, verified technologies and other outputs that will actually be put into practice,” said Koprna.

Thanks to its involvement in this research project, Palacký University has become a fully-fledged member of the National Competence Centre consortium under the BIOCIRKL acronym. “We are extremely honoured to become part of the National Competence Centre, which is a continuation of the successful first round from 2019–2022 with a number of significant results for practice in the field of circular economy for sustainability. Our workplace will use its long-standing expertise in the development of growth regulators. We have the necessary facilities and experts. We will thus contribute to the implementation of technological solutions that can improve conditions for sustainable plant production in conventional agriculture as well as in the field of energy crops,” said Lucie Plíhalová, Head of the Department of Chemical Biology at the UP Faculty of Science.

Four public research institutions, four universities, and twelve private organisations will participate in the project funded by the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic between 2023–2028. The results of those six years of research by scientists from several fields will help reduce ecological and energy demands in agriculture and the use of controversial pesticides. The project coordinator is the Institute of Chemical Process Fundamentals of the Czech Academy of Sciences. Palacký University’s budget in this project is planned for CZK 27 million (EUR 1 million).


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