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preventing virus contamination theme on crop protection days

"Take your responsibility in hygiene"

"Who considered not coming to the crop protection days because of ToBRFV?", was one of the first questions that was put to the Dutch growers attending the crop protection days with Royal Brinkman last month. One hand was raised among the approximately fifty attending growers. The tone was set and everyone was immediately given food for thought.

The crop protection days are an annual phenomenon. Van Iperen invited growers on Tuesday and the Wednesday afternoon and evening were organized by Royal Brinkman. In addition to a plenary section, there were eleven rounds to visit producers of plant protection products on the program. That round was also made in the morning by representatives and specialists from Royal Brinkman.

The plenary part was kicked off by Luc Kurris. He pointed out to growers the increasing importance of biopesticides alongside biological predatory bugs as more and more chemical pesticides are eliminated. Because the package of resources in Netherlands is continuously being reduced further, it did not take long before growers were asking questions about the authorization of products in other crops than those listed on the label.

Tests carrying out
After Luc, it was Jeroen Sanders from the Demo nursery Westland who had the floor. Following the annual tradition, he gave an update on current events and an update on the tests. Tests whereby, according to Jeroen, it is every year a challenge to make them well-displayed during the rounds. Tests also that can be carried out both in the World Horti Center and in the "old" Demo nursery. This is important, according to Jeroen, because it means that in Westland there are two test locations available.

After these two presentations, it was up to Jan Willem Keijzer, one of the faces behind the new hygiene concept HortiHygienz within Royal Brinkman, to stimulate the attending growers with all kinds of questions and tips, to think about a number of issues. After the question whether growers had considered not coming, Jan Willem urged growers not to just walk into their own greenhouse again with the clothes they were wearing now. "Take your responsibility."

This is how ToBRFV looks like

Virus threat
But can you still do it right then? It is a logical question, certainly in times of virus threats, where you as a grower could become quite afraid of all the dangers, and not without reason. "Strive to do as well as possible", Jan Willem could advise the growers. What followed was a series of recommendations. One of those was: make sure there is a responsible hygiene officer at the company. "With this you ensure a clear point of contact and clear decisions so that not everyone will be doing what he or she thinks is good."

What should such a person responsible for hygiene look after? Consider the contact time and the period before resources are effective. “Just cleaning your hands when entering the greenhouse is not nearly enough. Also just dipping knives in a disinfectant is not enough. Certainly with ToBRFV, but also for the cucumber mosaic virus that also comes from the tobamo corner and therefore is very persistent, it is more a matter of minutes than of seconds when it comes to disinfection. And anyway: always clean first," Jan Willem told the attendants. And measuring. Is the decontamination mat still working over time?

The crop change in the lighted crops is nearing. Who spots the leaf hanging on the tube? One of the growers in the venue does, just to indicate how difficult one hundred percent clean is.

Keep everything under control
In the meantime, it seems that as a grower it is not that simple to keep everything in and around a company under control. For example, what about drivers who just come in for a moment and who go around to pick up the harvest from various tomato growers. "That might even be a bigger risk. For that reason we are also working on a protocol with extra focus exactly on that logistics," says Jan Willem.

After this series of reminders it was time for a round to visit the producers. Every grower got a color card around his neck, with a little imagination and in line with the themes you could speak of a sticky plate on which the program was written.

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