The SUSFERT express is rolling – General Meeting in France

Half a year into the innovative project, the SUSFERT consortium was meeting again. This time in a new location, with new faces and a whole load of accomplishments already achieved and many plans for the future.

Fig. 1: On our way to France for the second General Meeting of the SUSFERT consortium ((c) N. Miljkovic/ RTDS)

The SUSFERT project so far

On November 26th 2018 the consortium made its way to beautiful north-western France to St. Malo. Hosted by partner institution Roullier the meeting started off with a thorough overview on the project by scientific coordinator Günter Brader (AIT) on November 27th.

Many emails – and tweets – have been exchanged, finally our colleagues Noemi Armal and Anne-Françoise Blandin from Roullier, Martin Kavšček from Acies Bio, Nikolaus Schwaiger from Sappi as well as Rishav Phukan and Michele Moretti from University of Antwerp (UA) were officially welcomed to the consortium.

Fig. 2: Martin from Acies Bio reporting on their progress in Work Package 1 ((c) N. Miljkovic/ RTDS).

After starting off in May 2018 SUSFERT two milestones and four deliverables have been reached on time. Moreover, the following progress was made:

  • In Work Package WP1 pot experiments have been successfully conducted, also the probiotic test runs seemed promising. As UA reported, many major and also small-scale struvite suppliers have been contacted and samples received – important work steps for the next deliverable.
  • With various factors to be controlled for optimal output of the pulp and paper by-product. Partner Sappi emphazises effort by all partners will be helpful for the upcoming upscaling process in Work Package WP2.
  • In Work Package WP3 work is ongoing to find alternative fermentation media compositions suitable for industrial production of siderophores.
  • The focus of Work Package WP4  is currently lying on establishing a chart with various information on sources, compounds and suppliers, etc. This will be the basis for an upcoming public deliverable.

Visiting the Roullier company

Later in the day the consortium was cordially invited to a guided tour through Roulliers plant in St. Malo. Seeing the grinding and coating process up close as well as getting to know about various sources like marine sediment and packing techniques was very rewarding for the partners.

Fig. 3+4: Visiting the Roullier plant ((c) R. Weichesmüller/ Agrana).

Certainly, the highlight was seeing the sophisticated labs and greenhouses of Roullier that allow for in-depth analyses and fully monitored growth experiments.

Fig. 3: Tour through the Roullier-Timac Agro plant, packaging, labs and greenhouses ((c) Timac Agro).

On day two, November 28th 2018, work packages 5 to 7 were presented in detail:

  • In Work Package 5 parter ARIC informed the consortium about their latest field trials and products tested. More experiments with kiwis and oranges will start soon.
  • Work Package 6 headed by UA is working on collecting information to build a flow chart of technologies used in SUSFERT for the Life Cycle Analysis (LCA). Great care has to be applied to any questions surrounding the upcoming fertiliser regulation.
  • The communication and dissemination activities in Work Package WP7 are well under way. Several tools and materials including the SUSFERT project website, Twitter and LinkedIn channels, a rollup and a flyer have been set up and produced. Moreover SUSFERT was presented at several events on the topics of bioeconomy and biochemistry in Vienna, Strasbourg and Helsinki earlier this year. First background checks were conducted for exploitable results.


What is yet to come in SUSFERT

A major part of the time together in St. Malo went into working and elaborating on the activity plans for the next half year to year. Much is to be done, especially once the new growing season is starting.

A big thank you goes out to our Roullier colleagues Sylvain, Noemi and Anne- Françoise for hosting us and enabling a great and productive time together. We were very pleased to hear encouraging farewell words by Roullier CEO Global Agro Supply Karina Kuzmak who stressed how important it is to always keep in mind that the people we are working for are farmers in their fields.

For next year we are looking forward to the third General Meeting in Ljubljana (Slovenia), where Acies Bio will host the consortium in April 2019.