Mushrooms at the service of agroecology with Mycophyto

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Explore the interviews of researchers, photographers, travelers who witnessed a world that is changing under the yoke of global warming.
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[EN VIDÉO] Our agriculture will soon be affected by global warming
Some of the effects of global warming are already being felt. Others are yet to come. The yields of certain crops could thus drop tangibly from 2030 under the effect of rising temperatures, variations in precipitation patterns and high levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. This is the conclusion of researchers who have worked on the most efficient climate and crop models of the moment. Maize yields, for example, could drop sharply. (in English) © NASA Goddard

According to Justine Lipuma, co-founder of Mycophyto, the agroecological transition is the only way for an in-depth change to produce more and better. She answers our questions.

Futura: Can you explain your concept to my grandmother?

Justine Lipuma: We take advantage of the synergy natural between plants and mushrooms microscopic mycorrhizal, which develop in their roots to multiply by 1,000 the exchange surface, thus promoting efficiency gains, water savings andfertilizer. It is this 450 million year old association that allowed plants to emerge from the water.

Justine Lipuma, co-founder of Mycophyto.  © Mycophyto

Futura: What is your solution?

Justine Lipuma: We really need to restore the image of mushrooms. We speak more readily of their harmful effects, yet minimal compared to all the tremendous benefits that have allowed evolution. The mycorrhizal fungi have no action pathogenic. They can be fed and housed by 85% of terrestrial plants which provide them with food. carbon in exchange for phosphate andnitrogen. We have therefore developed patented solutions on the implementation of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi native in crops to recreate long-lasting natural synergies with plant roots. All the actors of theagriculture and horticulture therefore have solutions to boost the biodiversity nature of soils, increase yields and the quality of production, reduce the environmental footprint of crops and cultivate healthy products that respect soil and human health. On average, the plant experiences additional growth of around 40%, while reducing its water requirement by up to 40%.

A mycorrhizal root.  ©Mycophyto

Futura: Why will your start-up change the world?

Justine Lipuma: Agriculture has never had to face a challenge of an unprecedented scale in the history of humanity, all the more so in such a short time: to feed 9.5 billion people in 2050 with less water, chemical fertilizers,fossil fuels and of plant protection productsall in the context of global warming and scarcity of arable lands. So we really have to remember how living soils are, that we can produce more and better with solutions like ours that allow the optimization of natural biological balances and the increase of the resilience farming systems.

Futura: How was the project born?

Justine Lipuma: After a course of research in microbiology, I wanted to be able to use all this tremendous knowledge to have a significant impact on the development of soils in favor of agriculture. So I founded Mycophyto with an agricultural engineer, Christine Poncet. The start-up is a spin off from Inrae and the Côte d’Azur University. We were first incubated in Sophia Antipolis then accelerated at the Village by CA Provence Côte d’Azur before being selected for the first promotion of acres, the largest agricultural campus in the world. We have also received 15 awards since our creation and are supported by Bpifrance.

Futura: What are the next steps?

Justine Lipuma: From 12, we should increase to 20 employees by the end of 2022. After obtaining 1.4 million euros in 2019, a new fundraising of 4 million euros is in progress to develop us in the four agricultural sectors that we support: market gardening, perfume and medicinal plants, the vines and arboriculture. We have also undertaken a project with the Maison de cognac Boinaud to increase the biodiversity of its soils and facilitate its adaptation to periods of drought which are unfortunately more and more frequent.

We must remember that soils are alive!  © Mycophyto

Futura: If you were Prime Minister, what key measure would you put in place?

Justine Lipuma: You really need to develop a ecosystem which will allow the hatching of unicorns in the AgriTech sector. Our future is at stake in the face of climate challenges but also of our food sovereignty, the importance of which we are currently seeing with the war in Ukraine, which is having a significant impact, particularly on the price of wheat and that of inputs like fertilizers. In concrete terms, this means intensifying the links with public research, increasing the means made available, further acculturating private funds on these subjects and accelerating, as far as possible, the marketing authorizations. This is also why Mycophyto is part of the steering committee of French Agritechbringing together all innovative players in the agricultural and food sectors; She is also a member of The Digital Farmwhich aims to promote innovation and digital technology for efficient, sustainable and civic-minded agriculture.

Futura: What will the world look like in 2050?

Justine Lipuma: I am an optimist by nature: I truly believe that we can change things for a welcoming world in 2050. Awareness is real at the level of citizens, industrialists and politicians, because nature is increasingly reminding us more our fragility, as we have seen with the health crisis. But now is the time to make strategic decisions and act.

Futura: What Futura hot topic excites you?

Justine Lipuma: The one on the microbiota ! Mushrooms, bacteriaflora, stem cells…. The similarities between the intestinal flora and our nourishing soils are exciting!

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