Innovation: researchers at Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech (ULiège) are developing a product based on essential oils to replace glyphosate

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For more than 150 years, Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, a faculty of the Université de Liège, has established itself as a real centre of expertise in the field of life sciences and biological engineering, as its new discovery shows.

The discovery made by the researchers at Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech is a major one from an environmental point of view: they have developed 3 high-performance, organic products to replace glyphosate. These are solutions based on essential oils that have been strongly diluted but which remain effective in killing weeds.

10 years of research

It took years of work in the laboratory to achieve this result. And like most of the time in the research sector, this discovery received a boost from fate. "There has always been a concern to develop alternative methods to chemical pesticides. And when we started research in 2010 on essential oils, we hadn't anticipated that glyphosate would be a problem years later. And it just so happens that, by chance, we are ready", explains Haïssam Jijakli, professor of phytopathology and urban agriculture at the Faculty of Gembloux at the Université de Liège.

A revolution for agriculture

This alternative to glyphosate represents a real revolution for agriculture because the product generally used to ban weeds, Roundup, will soon be banned in the European Union. The Walloon Federation of Agriculture welcomes the news. A fund-raising campaign is under way and a spin-off will be created at the end of the year. Next step: these natural herbicides will have to be registered before being marketed.

Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech

Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech is a human-sized faculty recognised internationally for the quality of its teaching and the excellence of its research. This reputation attracts more than a thousand students from some forty countries.

The faculty trains academics and engineers capable of meeting society's expectations in the fields of environmental protection, production, processing and valorisation of bio-resources.