Like many things in life, the start of Immunrise Biocontrol came about thanks to the meeting of two people: Lionel Navarro and Laurent de Crasto. Monsieur Navarro, a Research Director at the French National Centre for Scientific Research, and his team study the vine’s defence mechanisms. Monsieur de Crasto is an oenologist and agricultural engineer who worked for the INAO (Institut National de l’Origine et de la Qualité) before displaying his talents as an entrepreneur. He set up the company within the framework of Innovin, a structure unique in France which assists innovative projects in the wine sector.
Friends of long standing, Lionel Navarro and Laurent de Crasto share the same vision of agriculture and so decided to combine their expertise in order to develop entirely new and natural ways of dealing with pathogens.
Their research revealed the existence of promising marine micro-organisms able to stimulate the vine’s natural defences and limit the impact of vine diseases. This led to the founding of Immunrise Biocontrol to further their research and to find practical applications for their discoveries.
Their scientific experiments focused on microalgae invisible to the naked eye. Comprising hundreds of thousands of species, these are found in all aquatic environments. They represent an amazing breeding ground of potential ecologically-friendly remedies. Identifying these entails an enormous amount of meticulous research.
The two partners’ curiosity was aroused by the fungicide properties of a specific microalga. Grown, harvested, and processed into powder, this was named Extrait D (or “Extract D”).
Tested by INRA (the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, the largest in Europe) in Bordeaux on the main pathogenic fungi found in vineyards, Extrait D showed very encouraging results in fighting mildew (100% efficiency), botrytis (50%), and esca.
Although the initial results are extremely positive, they need to be confirmed because they were obtained in a controlled laboratory environment. The next step will be field tests to definitively prove Extrait D’s efficiency.
A microalgae farm should eventually be started, leading to production on an industrial scale. If this new solution proves to be positive, it could have an impact on not just vines, but many other crops as well. It would thus be of great interest to many agricultural sectors because, as Laurent de Crasto explains, “You need only one treatment, which is biodegradable, instead of four at the present time”.
If the tests are conclusive, this promising discovery “made in Bordeaux” should make work easier for winegrowers around the world.