Research database

BIOTICS - Prebiotics and probiotics from agro-food wastes to enhance soil and crop health.

24 months (2023 - 2025)
Principal investigator(s):
Project type:
Nationally funded research - PRIN
Funding body:
Project identification number:
. 2022K84JA5
PoliTo role:


Several million tons of bio-wastes are produced every year globally, contributing to soil and water pollution, greenhouse gases emissions and loss of important nutrients, like N and P, in the environment. On the other side, soils are facing a strong reduction in terms of organic matter content, and agricultural and food systems mainly rely on external inputs, such as mineral fertilizers and chemical pesticides. The proposal BIOTICS aims to upcycle agro-industrial waste of fruit and vegetable products, including crop residues (AIWFV), into high value added bio-based products (pre and probiotics) for improving soil and crop health in sustainable farming. WP1 is dedicated to the treatment of biowaste for extraction of bio-active compounds and for isolation of microbial strains suitable for stimulating plants development and protecting them from diseases. In WP2 anaerobic digestion and pyrolysis are sequentially performed on the extraction residue of AIWFV to produce bio-fertilisers and energy to support the whole or part of the proposed biorefinery system. After the anaerobic digestion, the digestate will be dewatered and the liquid fraction will be used for agriculture, whereas the solid fraction, made up of the un-exploited carbonaceous-organic matter will be processed to produce biochar. The produced biochar will be applied as adsorbent material in WP1 and for the formulation of biobased products in WP3, and in part added to anaerobic digestion to enhance the process both in terms of digestate quality and methane content in the biogas production. Furthermore, the bio-oil of pyrolysis will be employed for the formulation of bio-fungicides in WP3 and tested in WP4. WP3. A study on the best mix ratio between digestates, biochar (from WP2) and bio-active compounds (from WP1) will be carried out in WP3 to develop well-balanced fertilizers and pesticides. WP4. Preliminary trials will be followed by extensive tests in greenhouse and soil, simulating the cultivation of different vegetable crops in microcosm, in greenhouse and soil. Assessment of qualitative and quantitative effects of biobased products on crop development and yield will be carried out, with particular reference to their use as biofertilizers, biostimulants and biopesticides, comparing them with conventional products. WP5. Environmental and economic assessments will be carried out during all the laboratory and pilot tests, with the aim to detect, test by test, the environmental and economic bottlenecks of the test and provide a solution. Environmental and economic assessments will be performed with LCA and LCC-based methodologies. Both LCA and LCC will be employed as tools to achieve the sustainability of the proposed technology combinations (extraction, anaerobic digestion, pyrolysis and agricultural applications) from the pillars of their realisation.

People involved





ERC sectors

LS9_4 - Plant sciences (including crop production, plant breeding, agroecology, soil biology)

Sustainable Development Goals

Obiettivo 15. Proteggere, ripristinare e favorire un uso sostenibile dell’ecosistema terrestre|Obiettivo 13. Promuovere azioni, a tutti i livelli, per combattere il cambiamento climatico*


Total cost: € 228,055.00
Total contribution: € 206,263.00
PoliTo total cost: € 118,095.00
PoliTo contribution: € 105,690.00