Between 20th and 22nd September, Excalibur consortium met again for its general assembly, held in Wageningen (The Netherlands) and kindly hosted by the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KWAW).
During the first day of the meeting, Stefano Mocali (CREA), the project coordinator, gave a presentation on the status of the project, which has just entered its 4th and last period and will end in November 2024. He reviewed the main results obtained so far in each work package and their impact in terms of soil biodiversity improvement, as well as the pending issues to be discussed with the other partners.
Then, Raquel García (IZERTIS) and Anne Jungblut (NHM) explained the progress made in WP6 during the last year and several ideas related to dissemination and communication were discussed. Finally, Alessandra Trinchera (CREA) explained the work done on the preparation of guidelines to support the regulatory process for microbial biostimulants use in horticulture.
The second day started with a presentation from Eligio Malusa (INHORT), where he explained the status of WP1 (objectives, achieved results and next steps). This work package focuses on the selection of field trials and definition of native biodiversity.
Then, M. Grazia Tommasini (RINOVA) explained the status of WP3. During this last year, they have carried out the last field trials activities with 16 of the 46 bioproducts obtained within WP2. In total, 32 field trials have been carried out in strawberry, tomato and apple crops with 2 types of management, integrated (IPM) and organic.
After lunch, Nikolay Vassilev (University of Granada) gave a presentation on WP2, focused on the development of novel bio-products and practices under controlled conditions.
The third day began with a visit to NIOO KNAW facilities, followed by presentations by Gabriele Berg and Samuel Bickel (TU Graz), on the status of WP4, which deals with environmental impacts and delivery of soil ecosystem services, and Arjen Biere (NIOO-KNAW) on the status of WP5, which focuses on Plant-soil-microbe interactions and modelling.
The next and last Excalibur general assembly will take place in Warsow (Poland) in September 2024, in parallel with the IV International Organic Fruit Symposium and the II International Organic Vegetable Symposium (orghort2024.pl), which will be co-organized by the project.