UK breeding company CN Seeds has signed a collaborative agreement with the Plant Sciences Group at Wageningen University & Research.
The arrangement sees the formation of a new group with other companies and researchers to identify and develop alternatives to chemical pesticides that have been traditionally used for seed treatment.
According to CN Seeds, the benefits of using treated seed are well recognised, but as chemical pesticides are more and more phased out, the application of fungicides to seed becomes unsustainable. The research goal is to replace the pesticides with biologically low-risk methods to reduce residue levels and improve seed and plant health.
A wide range of beneficial microbial groups will be screened to assess their potential and efficacy as biological control agents as seed treatments, with the aim of establishing robust crops that will enable food production in environmentally friendly and economic ways.
The company said: "Seed health is the critical first step in the production of viable and resilient crops. For CN Seeds this project is a major long-term commitment towards meeting the global challenge for sustainable food production."