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The battle against mildew in strawberries

"In the fight against powdery mildew (white disease), the power of UV-C light has become increasingly clear in recent years," says Leon Verkoelen of Bogaerts Greenhouse Logistics. "Five years of research led by the Research Centre Hoogstraten (PCH) has resulted in a crystallised treatment method with UV-C light." With the Qii Drive Shift UV-C, an autonomous driving machine for this UV-C treatment has been developed by Bogaerts. "The autonomous movement is very simple. The machine moves itself sideways, so no weird or complicated movements have to be made," Leon reveals.

"In the past, horticulturists could only rely on preventive and curative spraying of crops, throughout the cultivation period, in other words," Leon continues. "41% of the residues found on strawberries came from sprays to prevent powdery mildew."

The advantage of UV-C treatment is that it provides a residue-free, biological solution against powdery mildew. "The disadvantage is that you cannot apply it when your staff are working in the greenhouse and when there is daylight," says Leon. "The Qii-drive Shift UV-C is specially designed to go through the greenhouse autonomously so that treatment is still possible. Per night, you can treat about 2 hectares." For a greenhouse of about 4 hectares, one machine is then sufficient. "Time and battery capacity is the limiting factor."

Bogaerts takes no chances in this. The lamps are of the type from the PCH research. "Plants that get too much light get damaged. The machine is protected against this and is set to prevent plant damage."

The Qii-drive shift UV-C was developed by Bogaerts in cooperation with the Belgian test centre in Hoogstraten and has been running for more than a year in the greenhouse of a Belgian grower. The first machines have now been delivered, and new applications are coming in weekly. Because of its biological control, subsidies are also possible for the Qii-drive Shift UV-C.

The machine is easy to install in any greenhouse with a tube-rail system, says Leon. He says the machine is unique because it has the technology of an experienced machine builder behind it. Bogaerts has years of experience in the development of self-driving vehicles for greenhouse farming and is a market leader in this field. The machines have proven their worth in various applications. This also allows us to guarantee high reliability and the necessary safety. We know what to equip the machine with, flashing lights, stop bumpers, audio signals, sensors, and safety scanner. Autonomous, effective, safe, and reliable," concludes Leon.

Find the Qii-drive Shift UV-C at the Fruit Logistica in Berlin in hall 3.1, stand B-61 

For more information:
Bogaerts greenhouse logistics
Tel.: +32 (0)3 314 1801  

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