Makabi - Small capsules for healhy plants and functional food

Summary of the project

One of the sources of climate change is the intensive use of agrochemicals in agricultural production. Because of their negative impact, it is necessary to develop new agroecological formulations for plant nutrition and protection that are based on the use of isolated microorganisms (fungi/bacteria) and chemical reagents that are in optimal proportions and show synergistic action. The formulations were created by the green chemistry process of encapsulation of bioactive components into formulations with a 3 in 1 effect (nutrition, protection and time release). It is a completely biodegradable product, the application of which achieves nutrition and protection of plant cultures, but also stimulates the production of secondary plant metabolites.

Duration of the project: 01.03.2023 – 01.03.2025

Financed by: EU FUNDS, HAMAG BICRO, Ministartsvo gospodarstva i održivog razvoja

 

Makabi - Small capsules for healthy plants and functional food
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The main activities of the project
 

  • preparation and characterization of new microcapsule formulations
  • application of new formulations on selected plant cultivars on test fields
  • patent protection
  • employment
  • dissemination

Schematic representation of the action of the formulation
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Makabi Agritech - Sustainable Agriculture and Responsible Food Production

With their innovative approach in green chemistry and sustainable agricultural production, Makabi contributes to the reduction of environmental pollution, mitigates climate change and increases the biopotential of produced food. For these reasons Makabi Agritech was chosen as the ISC3 start-up of the month for November 2023.

What is the essence of Makabi´s innovative idea and its impact? The start-up developed a 3-in-1 “smart pill” for plants as a substitute for current fertilizers, which also contributes to soil and nature protection. The idea is to cut down the use of modern agrochemicals down by 30% and to help produce functional food.

 The pill is created by the simultaneous synergetic and green encapsulation technology of both, microorganisms and chemical reagents. The product is fully biodegradable, as the capsule shell is formed by nature-derived biopolymer. The components of the pill are thereby protected from outer influences such as weather or temperature and immobilised, which allows for the survival of the contained microorganisms for several month.

 

The smart pill also presents a solution to the problem of pollution by the common excessive use of commercial fertilizers: It has a build-in time release mechanism of its bioactive components, so the plants can absorb them when needed, making the utilization of additional fertilizer obsolete.

 Makabi actively connects to other projects and start-ups in the field of but not only restricted to plant protection at Zagreb university and industry One such collaboration was formed with Raj Tanna from Schutzen Care. Here, the start-ups will join forces to produce smart pills for the textile industry.

Three questions for Marko Vincekovic, founder of Makabi

What led to your solution in Sustainable Chemistry?

Marko Vincekovic: Our product is the result of a six-year long research project at the faculty of agriculture of Zagreb University. This project was motivated by the current use of big amounts of chemical fertilizers in modern agriculture, which add to environmental pollution and affect human health. “If we have the smart pills for the humans, why can´t we do that for the plants?” was the original idea that led us to the creation of the Makabi’s 3-in-1 encapsulation technology.

What does being chosen as ISC3 Start-up of the Month mean to you?

M. Vincekovic: It means a lot for us, because it is visibility and the visibility is everything – people will notice you and who knows, maybe some of these people will help you to increase your business and to make new formulations. By myself I can´t do a lot, but if were working together, we can make a change and make our world better.

What’s next up at Makabi?

M. Vincekovic: We started with some new innovation projects that we should accomplish in the next 2 years. Also, we will apply for patents. We will start connecting with the industry partners to start the upscaling the production of formulations, which will be put on the market; also we would like to start new projects with those industry partners. Recently, Makabi Agritech was awarded the EU project “MAKABI – A small capsule for a healthier plant and functional food”. The project is co-financed by the European Union – NextGenerationEU.

ENCAPSULATION (March 2024)

 

(Green technology that changes agricultural production)

 

Encapsulation of bioactive components plays an important role in agricultural production because it can improve the stability, usability and efficiency of various bioactive components used in agriculture. There are several ways in which encapsulation can affect agricultural production and the preparation of functional foods:

 a) Increases stability: Encapsulation enables the protection of sensitive bioactive components from external factors such as light, oxygen, moisture or temperature changes. This can increase the stability of these components during storage and transport, thereby ensuring their effectiveness when applied to agricultural crops.

 b) More precise application: Encapsulated bioactive components can be more precisely applied to plants or soil. This approach allows for better dose control and targeting of specific areas, reducing the need for large volumes of agents.

 c) Prolongs the release of nutrients: Encapsulated substances can have a controlled release, which means that the nutrients or pesticides released from the encapsulation can last longer. This extended release can reduce the need for frequent reapplications.

 d) Reduces harmful effects: Encapsulation can help reduce negative impacts on the environment and health, as it reduces the risk of unnecessary spread of pesticides or other substances. Controlled release can also reduce the need for high concentrations of pesticides, which can minimize adverse effects on the environment.

 e) Increases fertilizer efficiency: Encapsulation can also be used to improve fertilizer efficiency. This technology enables better control of nutrient release, reducing losses and increasing the availability of nutrients to plants.

 e) Improves adaptation to specific conditions: Encapsulation can help adapt bioactive components to specific soil or climate conditions, thus increasing the adaptability of agricultural products to different environmental conditions.

Overall, the encapsulation of bioactive components can contribute to more sustainable and efficient agricultural production, reducing losses, improving control over the application of substances and minimizing negative effects on the environment and human health.