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"A entire season of not spraying against mildew? It's possible!"

Raf Quirijnen grows strawberries in Belgium. He has just had a whole season without spraying against mildew. Raf has greenhouses in two locations, one equipped with a fully autonomous UV-C control robot.

The greenhouse without the UV-C system was very troublesome last season. That was no different for many other strawberry growers. It proved horrendous to try and manage mildew during the 2023 growing season. While this fungus seems to be getting worse every year, it is increasingly difficult to control, given the diminishing prevention resource package.

UV-C only
Raf has been using UV-C in his other greenhouse for two years now. The Hoogstraten Research Center studies show that UV-C light, administered via a UV robot, can control mildew well. To ensure this application becomes available in practice, Coƶperatie Hoogstraten invested in a few demo robots.

They tested these on trial farms that use different cultivation systems, including Raf's. Last year, he was still treating his crop preventively with a combination of various crop protection products. This year, however, Raf was confident enough to treat his one greenhouse exclusively with UV-C.

Autonomous platform
When we spoke to him on November 14, Raf expressed his pleasure in being able to grow mildew-free crops at one of his production sites this fall. "Following the spring crop results, we decided not to do mildew control this fall. The result in the greenhouse where we used the UV robot was as expected. That was very different from the other site, where mildew pressure was very high and hard to manage," he says.

Two things are important to Raf. "Not only the technology, but the machine, too, must be reliable." After careful market research, he chose the Qii-Drive Shif t UV-C from Bogaerts Greenhouse Logistics two years ago. This fully autonomous robot precisely applies the UV-C recipe.

Bogaerts, too, is well-pleased with this news. "Firstly, credit where credit is due. The Hoogstraten Research Center found the key to success, thanks to their years of research into combatting mildew. In that, we're partly the lucky ones who were approached to develop an autonomous platform with which the treatment could be accurately administered," says Mattijs Van Loon.

Raf and Mattijs

Rising demand
He explains that it took only a year to find a way to integrate the device efficiently into their existing pipe rail trolleys. "I believe that's our key to success. We already have several thousand very reliable AGVs in operation worldwide, proven technology on which we can keep building."

"Steering a machine through the greenhouse, getting it to find its way, and switching lights on and off correctly is a piece of cake, right? There's a lot more to it, of course," Matthijs reckons, "but if the basics are right, we should succeed. Our Qii-Drive Shift UV-C is a great example of that."

Mattijs adds that Bogaerts only sees UV-C applications only increasing in the coming years. "Demand from various growers' associations is rising tremendously for high-tech greenhouse construction as well as across the board in cultivation. We're, thus, already reading ourselves for the next challenge," he concludes.

For more information:
Bogaerts Greenhouse Logistics

Mattijs van Loon
Direct: +32 (0) 380 07 254
Mobile: +32 (0) 485 044 720
Email: [email protected]

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