Due to the pressure caused by the current pandemic, many growers want to thoroughly disinfect their harvest carts, one of whom is Brian Leenders of Van Gog Plant Nursery. However, at the start of the year, he decided things were going to be different. The reason: damage to the harvest carts. The solution: dry disinfection by using UV.
When Brian decided to compare disinfection options after having paid yet another bill for harvest cart repairs, it was January. Up until now, they still used chemicals to disinfect, as many other growers do. But those products damage the harvest carts, which costs labor and money to repair.
Disinfection is an important part of the hygiene protocols to counter, among other things, the Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus (ToBRFV) and the cucumber mosaic virus. Regular disinfecting limits the chances of spreading such a virus through the harvest carts, which Van Gog Plant Nursery will now be doing using UV lights. Brian: “It’s a dry disinfection method, so it does not damage the harvest carts.”
Cooling UV lights
The options to self-build were discussed internally. Leenders: “A project like this requires more than just placing some UV lights, which is why we decided to work with an experienced supplier. There are many things to take into account to ensure the right dosage is being reached within the one-and-a-half-minute time frame allotted to this process. Research has shown that UV lights need to be cooled to reach the high dosage wanted. The treat portal of the tunnel we use is equipped with carefully dosed cooling systems in the form of little fans, so the UV lights don’t overheat or get too cold, allowing them to perform optimally.”
No stray light
Of course, the topic of safety came up. “Yes, we do need to apply a rather large dose of UV light in a short amount of time to get rid of all possible diseases present, but too much stray light could be harmful to the staff and us. Our tunnel is equipped with a front portal, a treat portal, and an after-portal between all of which curtains are placed to prevent this. The portals are also provided with a UV absorbent coating which takes care of the stray light in the front and after portal. The readings indicate that no stray light comes out.”
Arjo of CleanLight points out a few important details: “In these type of tunnels, we use a high dosage of disinfecting UV light. That high dosage can cause damage to, for instance, plastic insulation used in electrical cables. It is important not to use regular electrical cables in these types of projects but instead use a material that is resilient to this type of lighting, which we have learned over the past ten years through trial and error.”
Brian Leenders is content looking back at the project: “Exactly four weeks after we placed our order, a truck came with our new ready-made tunnel. Damian of CleanLight came by as well to help us install the tunnel safely and sensibly. He also checked the dosage and helped us comply with all of the legal safeguards. Overall we are happy with our decision and with our new disinfection system.”
Arjo van der Sluis