After the successful application of UVC in strawberry cultivation, crop protection specialists at Micothon in The Netherlands have now also conducted a trial to combat mildew in strawberry runner cultivation with an automatic UVC robot.
There is an urgent demand from the horticultural sector for a more sustainable and affordable solution to replace crop protection products. A crop that has not been sprayed yields a higher price than a sprayed product, and strict regulation means that regular products are less readily available.
Crop expert and machine builder Theo Straathof, owner of Micothon, has known for years that UVC is the best way to tackle crop diseases. The crop is treated without damaging or even touching the crop using the frequency of light.
Micothon started in 2003 developing spraying robots that can be used in greenhouses for all kinds of crops. Using the unique air support, the robot sprays the crop protection product with a very good coverage of almost 97% of the plant. After implementing robots at many different horticulturists worldwide with various flower, plant, and vegetable crops, Theo believes that treatment with crop protection products is not the solution for the long term.
Controlling mildew by spraying conventional crop protection products is effective in the short term, but it is a polluting solution because of the residue that is always left behind.
With the high-quality requirements, sustainability, and stricter regulations from the buyers of horticultural products, this method of crop protection is no longer sufficient for future-focused growers. Environmental and food production guidelines are getting stricter every year. Due to new regulations and requirements, crop protection products are becoming more expensive and scarce. There is an urgent request in the horticultural industry for sustainable and financially attractive ways of crop protection. That is why Micothon already started developing the first UVC applications in 2008. The new developments were aimed to protect greenhouse crops against mildew that, without control, can have a huge financial impact on greenhouse growers.
In 2019, Micothon was asked by a research center in Bleiswijk-NL for their expertise in the field of UVC in combination with a fully automatic application for a trial with strawberry plants. Due to the very positive results of the trial from the research center, Micothon has decided to further develop the UVC application to become the solution for mildew in cuttings cultivation.
The above video is a demo of the basics of UVC application in cuttings. Micothon continues to develop in this area. Every crop reacts differently to UVC, and every greenhouse is different.