16th Nov 2022

Xiaobin Zhao, WASWARE, speaking at REAP 2022

Frasscoat uses a bioresin impregnated with a biopesticide created from insect frass to provide powerful, biodegradable seed protection. It has been developed by WASWARE to create a seed treatment that increases seed sprouting and seedling survival, enhances growth and repels pests, whilst leaving no chemical residues. Frasscoat was showcased by Prof Xiaobin Zhao of WASWARE at the Agri-TechE REAP 2022 Start-up Showcase.

The idea for Frasscoat emerged after a discussion between AgriGrub and Cambond in the Royal Norfolk Show Innovation Hub hosted by Agri-TechE. The discussion was facilitated by Dr Lydia Smith of NIAB, an expert in the circular economy, who saw an opportunity for a collaboration between the two organisations to address a huge crop protection challenge facing agriculture following the withdrawal of many chemicals used for seed treatments.

AgriGrub is using chitosan, a natural stimulant for a plant’s defence system, to create a potent active ingredient for crop protection. The chitin comes from insect frass produced by the larvae of black soldier flies feeding on waste fruit. Cambond has created a bio-resin from dried distillers’ grains, a by-product from whisky production, that, when combined with plant waste, offers an alternative to oil-based plastics.

The two companies have collaborated to develop Frasscoat with WASWARE, Cambond’s product development arm, to take it to market.

Prof Xiaobin Zhao explains: “Frasscoat has potential to be the first organically certified seed coating technology. Seed treatments typically use a polymer containing pesticide to provide protection to the crop during emergence. These chemicals leave residues in the soil and are unsuitable for organic crops.

“By combining a biopesticide that has been developed naturally by insects and a bio-resin created from plant materials and biological processes, the result is a plant protection product that is highly effective, bio-degradable and provides uses for materials that would otherwise have been wasted.”

WASWARE has been conducting trials of Frasscoat with NIAB, the John Innes Centre and Rothamsted Research to verify the findings, which are very promising: seed germination is enhanced (>20%) and seedling growth is stimulated. There is also evidence of pest resistance properties.

Dr Belinda Clarke, Director of Agri-TechE, comments: “Increasing the germination rate and promoting strong growth in seedlings has been shown to improve crop resilience and performance. I am sure that WASWARE’s technology will attract significant interest from the agri-tech innovation ecosystem. REAP has provided profile for many exciting early-stage businesses with collaborators, end users and investors. 14 of the companies previously featured have collectively raised over £92 Million in the last three years.”

To learn more about the REAP Conference which took place last week, you can find out more at: agri-tech-e.co.uk/event/reap-2022/

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