Physics instead of pesticides: UV flashes that are invisible to the naked eye activate natural defence mechanisms in plants. “UV disinfection is already being used in healthcare. But using it as a booster for defence mechanisms in plants is new,” says Baptiste Rouesné, head of UV Boosting.
It all started in 2015: Researchers Laurent Urban and Jawad Aarrouf from the University of Avignon, France, proved that plant defence mechanisms against certain pathogens can be enhanced by UV-C flashes. They further developed their system and registered their first patent in 2015. Two years later UV Boosting was founded in collaboration with Yves Matton from Technofounders.
40 Maschinen für Winzer
“Around 40 machines already operate in France, mainly in vineyards. UV flashes leave no residue. This is of particular interest to winemakers because they care about the environment and want to leave the vines untreated while complying with all regulations. But how exactly does the system work?
“The UV rays stimulate the plants to produce salicylic acid,” says Mr Rouesné. “This strengthens their natural defence against diseases like powdery mildew and downy mildew, so that less fungicide needs to be used.” Unlike the application of classic fungicides, the effect here is not impacted by wind or rain. Another advantage: The field can be entered again immediately. UV stimulation is based on a physical process and is 100% compatible with all crop protection programs, whether conventional or organic.
UV flashes trigger a defence mechanism in plants, before a pathogen appears.
The investment for the UV panels amounts to around €55,000 (£47,181). “Winegrowers who use our technology come from different regions including Bordeaux, Champagne and Occitania and work their fields both conventionally organically,” says Mr Rouesné.
The UV flash technology can be used in many ways: It is already used in strawberries, and tests are being carried out on fruit trees as well. Trials on conventional field crops will follow in a second phase. In addition to France, UV Boosting is also working in Italy, Spain, Switzerland and California.