hE-FARM Project

About He - Farm

In spite of the vast number of pathogens and diseases, the entry points for microorganisms into a farm or any other Farm to Fork facility are limited to just nine "transmission channels" or "transport routes."

Tracing or monitoring the transport of individual or a few microorganisms through a specific channel can yield valuable information about that channel and thus, on the effectiveness of transport of the entire group of microorganisms using that channel.

HE-FARM aims to develop and validate a methodology, based on experimental assays and tests in both laboratory and operational environments, to assess and predict biosecurity at the transport-channel level, while also advancing several disruptive novel technologies.

A software application or APP will be created to facilitate these procedures and will be proposed as a CEN Workshop agreement/CWA. Additionally, prototypes of novel biosecurity technologies are being developed and tested in operational environments such as extensive and intensive cow, pig, chicken, turkey, sheep, and snail farms, a slaughter and meat preparation plant, and trucks.

These innovative technologies include a Fast Integrated Air-borne Virus Smart Detector for PRRS and Avian Flu, with potential extension to other viruses like African swine fever, enabling early detection within minutes and making a significant impact.

Other technologies being developed include low-toxicity insecticides/repellents along with dynamic aggregation application for sanitation, environmentally friendly insect barrier and prevention technologies, a rapid vehicle decontamination station, a biosecure and environmentally friendly hall, a heat venting and cooling biosecure system, a portable low-cost test device for fast measuring microbiological metabolism, and cold plasma farm water sanitization.

In addition to implementing these new technologies, procedures and manuals for their usage and training will be established, and their performance will be assessed using a specific method. Furthermore, an open call will be conducted to select and experimentally test at least three externally provided biosecure technologies. Communication and dissemination efforts intend to involve collaboration with authorities.

Objectives

1. To create and validate a cost-effective & Standardizable Experimental Channel-resolved Biosecurity Assessment Methodology

Our ambition is to take the first step towards a more refined approach to assessing biosecurity in the «Farm to Fork» sector. The foundation of this method will be experimental, aiming to establish a quantitative evaluation based on measures related to «transport channels.» These channels represent the various pathways through which pathogens can be transmitted. This methodology will also serve to evaluate the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of particular biosecurity measures or technologies in order to improve the biosecurity in this sector.

2. To create and validate a Standardizable Channel-resolved cost&benefit Biosecurity Prediction Methodology and software/APP

This objective consist on developing a procedure (software or App) based on the results obtained from objective 1 that will let stakeholders know the effect and actual cost and benefit of implementing a particular measure.

3. Development, assessment and validation up to TRL7 of a new technology for monitoring pathogens in air -also useful for water and wastewater

The ambition of the present project is to combine three recently developed technologies from different fields to provide a new device for live detection of air-borne pathogens. BIAFTS technology (developed by partners CSIC and CF) is a game-changer in air monitoring as it enables aerosol sampling in less than 2 min time, providing a liquid sample. Once that a liquid sample is provided, ApoH concentration technology developed by partner IRD, as well as synthetic Aptamer (artificial antibody) techniques developed by partner NOVAP can quickly detect specific antigens and, therefore, pathogens. The last part of the chain can be applied directly to water and waste-water detection and therefore be useful for monitoring these channels as well.

4. Development, assessment, and validation up to TRL7 of low toxicity biocides, insecticides and repellents in combination with dynamic aggregation application

The use of conventional biocides, insecticides and repellents of insects and arachnids is strongly conditioned and limited by their toxicity. In this project, we aim to explore the potential of low-toxicity biocides, insecticides, and repellents to address these limitations. Additionally, the methodology employed to apply these substances will play a crucial role in achieving this objective, as it will focus on minimizing the dosage required.

5. Development, assessment, and validation up to TRL7 of a low-cost environmental friendly vehicle fast decontamination station

Vehicles, especially trucks, are widely acknowledged as efficient carriers of microorganisms, especially when it comes to transporting animals from one farm or facility to another. In the HE-FARM project, our goal is to establish appropriate cleaning and disinfection methods for vehicles that are both practical and cost-effective.

6. Development, assessment, and validation up to TRL7 of Biosecure & Environmental Friendly HVAC

Heating, Venting, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) play a crucial role in maintaining clean rooms and biosafe environments. In the context of intensive farms, ventilation is essential to meet the oxygen requirements of livestock and to counteract the significant generation of aerosols, dust, and other air-borne particles.

7. Development, assessment, and validation up to TRL7 of Biosecure & Environmental Friendly Hall

The use of the low toxicity/green biocides, insecticides and repellents in combination with dynamic aggregation application as stated in objective 4, will enable the development of a Biosecure & Environmental Friendly Hall, where staff, clothes, a broad range of materials, tools, etc. can be fast sanitized/disinfected ensuring a biosecurity level and simultaneously a low cost and low environmental impact.

8. Development, assessment, and validation up to TRL7 of a Portable Low-cost test-equipment for measuring microbiological metabolic activity

One of the objectives of the current project is to create a portable prototype device for measuring microbiological activity. This device will be based on the redox potential measurement technique developed by our partner UNIVET.

9. Usage and training procedures and manuals

Procedures and training are as critical as equipment or technologies. Most procedures currently used for disinfection or prevention are critically dependent of the human factor and therefore training procedures are key.

10. Cold plasma water sanitization up to TRL7 in F2F

Sanitized water is an essential requirement for farming and the entire Farm to Fork (F2F) chain. It is vital for animals to have access to clean water for drinking purposes, as well as for general washing and maintaining hygiene.

 

Currently, the Alfredo Zolezzi Foundation (AZF) and Copernicus Integrated Solutions for Biosafety (CISBR) have developed and patented an innovative technology called Plasma Water Sanitization (PWS). This technology utilizes cold plasma to treat water, resulting in the elimination of 100% of viruses and bacteria.

 

The process involves the conversion of a low-energy continuous flow of liquid water into a plasma chamber.

To validate the effectiveness of the PWS technology, it will be implemented and tested in farms and Farm to Fork facilities. The aim is to assess its actual impact on animal health and productivity, thereby determining the tangible benefits of this sanitization method.

11. Impact on EU F2F facilities resilience

An essential objective In this project in to ensure and maximize availability and usability of HE-FARM technologies by EU Farm to Fork stakeholders. Every farmer, veterinarian, manager, or authority should have effective access to these tools and technologies to use them. This means a proper dissemination, communication and commercialization, an adequate standardization, access to first-adopters’ successful results and training resources.

He - Farm Project

NOW in progress

Setting up basis and procedures for biosecurity; technologies and assessment of actual state. In this first stage the objectives and tasks that are being performed include:

  • The application of conventional risk assessment techniques as well as the new procedures to evaluate biosecurity to the current state of a list of selected Farm to Fork (F2F) facilities including several species: cattle, pigs, poultry and sheep in both intensive and extensive farms and get a practical experience for establishing a common procedure.
  • The sampling of the currently existing microorganisms (microbiota and microbiome) in air, surfaces, food, water, waste, insects, ticks and animals in the mentioned list of facilities.
  • The establishment of the rational basis and procedures to assess the level of biosecurity of Farm to Fork chain elements.
  • Revision of both existing and under development standards regarding biosecurity measures and risk mitigation in farms
  • Development of a first basic software tool (to be improved in the following stages) to help the implementation of the procedures to assess the biosecurity.
  • Hardware prototyping of the novel technologies to improve biosecurity that will be experimentally validated in future stages of the project: station for fast decontamination of vehicles, integrated air-borne pathogens (PRRS and Avian Influenza) smart sensors, Biosecure & Environmental-Friendly HVAC, Biosecure & Environmental-Friendly Hall and Portable Low-cost test-equipment to measure microbiological metabolism.
  • In vitro exploration of a set of low-toxicity biocides to assess their toxicity and effectiveness on relevant microorganisms.