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Greenhouses to fight pests changing colours

The monochromatic greenhouse landscape in Spain can soon make way for a variety of colours and materials for the protection and improvement of crops, according to researchers of the Technical University of Cartagena (UPCT) and the Agri-Food Research and Development Institute of Murcia (IMIDA), in cooperation with the Town Council of Tenerife.

The prototypes of coloured shading nets and plastics the researchers are experimenting with in the region of Murcia modify the transmission, absorption and reflection of light in the greenhouse, increasing light diffusion and modifying the ultraviolet and infrared light spectrums, among others.

The preliminary results of the trials that are being carried out in Campo de Cartagena show that these optical innovations can improve the nutritional quality, earliness and yield of the fruits, as well as avoid pests.

“The peculiarities of these netting types, which improve the use of solar radiation, would enable to grow greenhouse crops during summer months in which those crops lose presence in the market because high temperatures are a limiting factor for the production,” explains Josefa López, researcher at IMIDA, mentioning peppers as an example of a crop that could benefit from these innovations.

“In addition to providing protection from climatic events such as blizzards or hailstorms, the photoselective shading nets can protect the crop from pests by blocking ultraviolet radiation, which is essential for the development of insects and diseases like Botrytis,” explains Juan Antonio Fernández, professor at the UPCT who is in charge of the work groups on protected crops of the International Society of Horticultural Science (ISHS).

“Most of the physiological development processes of plants, insects and diseases depend on the light they receive. The most convenient light components to get the desired physiological effect on the crop and protect it from pests and diseases can be selected by using photoselective shading nets,” adds the researcher of the UPCT.

However, the researchers warn that before using these new materials “the impact on natural pollinators and beneficial insects used in biological pest control should be considered.” It should also be considered that “the photosynthetic processes of the plant are not seriously affected.”

The trials are part of the FEDER project about “Innovation for the productivity by means of crop protection (plastic polymers).”

These new techniques will be the central theme of the first International Symposium on Nettings and Screens in Horticulture, which will be held on January 27-31, 2019 in Tenerife, under the sponsorship of the ISHS.

Worldwide experts and speakers from Italy, Greece, Netherlands and Israel will attend the event, as well as prominent Spanish researchers on the aforementioned subjects. The scientific committee is made up of researchers of 34 Research Centers and Universities from 14 countries.


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