Seeding Food Innovation - Awarded Project 2018

Development of Sustainable Biopesticides Based on Phytochemicals Extracted from Agri-Food Waste

Project Description

Billions of tonnes of agri-food waste are generated around the world annually, representing an untapped resource for the development of new biofuels and bioproducts. In Ontario, most of the agricultural waste is in the form of crop residue, the leftover part of the crop that is not harvested, as well as waste from food processing, such as the skins and seeds produced during the preparation of canned or frozen vegetables. All of these wastes contain naturally occurring bioactive chemicals and interest in using these natural chemicals for agricultural, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical applications continues to grow. Working with greenhouse and field producers as well as vegetable processors, we identified agri-food wastes containing appreciable amounts of saponins and essential oils, naturally occurring chemicals that are known to have anti-insect and anti-fungal activity. Properly developed, these saponins and essential oils could be used as sustainable crop protection treatments (i.e. biopesticides).

Relevance to the field of food innovation

We will determine the feasibility of using saponins isolated from pea processing waste and essential oils isolated from hop crop residue as biopesticides in greenhouse production. Biopesticides have experienced remarkable growth globally, but very few are registered in Ontario for greenhouse food crops. This is a missed opportunity. Pea and hop waste will be collected from partners. Yield of the saponins and essential oils obtained from conventional solvent extraction and more sustainable solvent-free methods will be compared. The extracted chemicals, alone as well as within innovative formulations, will then be evaluated for their effectiveness in controlling insect and fungal pests of greenhouse food crops. An economic analysis of manufacturing new biopesticides from agri-food waste will also be completed.

Anticipated outcome

Displacing synthetic pesticides with biopesticides developed from waste will contribute to improved sustainability of food production, a recognized goal of the provincial and federal governments as well as progressive members of the private sector. Other benefits include reductions in pollutants from agri-food and agrochemical production, increased agricultural pest control options, including certified organic options, and reductions in the dependence on non-renewable food production inputs. Ultimately, Canadians will have more choices for how their food is produced. The economic and pest control data from this project will be used to engage the industrial partners and the appropriate funding programs needed to make the new agri-food waste to biopesticide value chain a reality.


Dr. Rob Nicol

Dr. Nicol conducts research, teaches and mentors students in the School of Applied Sciences and Technology at Fanshawe College, and is adjunct faculty at the School of Pharmacy, University of Waterloo. He investigated the anti-fungal activity of ginseng saponins for his doctoral research (Western University) and the anti-insect » More Info

Dr. Simon Lachance

Dr. Lachance is currently a College Professor and Program Coordinator of the Diploma in Environmental Management at the University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus. He obtained his Ph.D. in the field of biological control of pests at the University of Guelph in 2000, following a M.Sc. in Biology and a B.Sc. in » More Info

Dr. Ian Scott

Since joining the London Research and Development Centre (LoRDC), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), Dr. Ian Scott has been involved in several related research projects that developed novel testing protocols to assess the insecticidal activity of plant-derived compounds. » More Info

Dr. Shawn Wettig

Dr. Wettig is an Associate Professor, University of Waterloo, School of Pharmacy as well as the Associate Dean of Science for Graduate Studies, University of Waterloo. Dr. Wettig’s research interests lie in the general areas of biophysical chemistry and nanotechnology; in particular at the interface of these two broadly defined » More Info

Dr. Richard Vyn

Dr. Vyn is an Associate Professor in the Department of Food, Agricultural & Resource Economics at the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus. He grew up on a cash-crop farm near Guelph. He completed a Ph.D. in agricultural economics at the University of Guelph. » More Info

Cara McCreary

Cara McCreary is the Greenhouse Vegetable IPM Specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) working out of the Harrow Research and Development Centre. Cara joined the ministry in January 2015 from a position as a Research Associate in the Edible Bean Program at the University of » More Info

Norm Hansen

Norm Hansen is a cum laude graduate of The Ohio State University, and a graduate of the University of Windsor. He has spent his years since graduating teaching, growing cut flowers, and most recently, growing organic greenhouse vegetables. He is the Director of Research and Development for Erieview Acres, and it is here » More Info

Dr. Timothy Wilson

Dr. Wilson is an Associate Professor at the University of Western Ontario’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry. He teaches anatomy and conducts educational research. He is also a passionate brewer and farmer. Along with his wife Melanie, they own and operate an organic hop yard and on-farm brewery. They are » More Info

The Middlesex London Food Policy Council (MLFPC)

The Middlesex London Food Policy Council (MLFPC) has a vision of a community that sustains a healthy, safe, equitable and ecologically responsible food system, while nourishing all local residents. The role of a Food Policy Council is to identify challenges and propose innovative solutions to improve local food » More Info