‘The virus’ is still current. “I have the idea that it even overshadows everything in greenhouse horticulture,” says Jos Veugen of Frans Veugen Industrial Hygiene.
By ‘the virus’ Jos means the Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus (ToBRFV). “We see many more applications in the field of virus and bacterial control than in the field of crop protection. Cart disinfection and hygiene locks are running much faster this year than last year.”
For the time being, we have not yet got rid of the tomato pathogen. “I haven’t solved it yet, otherwise it would be gone,” Jos jokes. In a more serious tone: “We are not as easy as corona, we have that almost under control after a year and a half. ToBRFV has been around for much longer, and we’re not over it yet.”
What is the solution then? “I think we’re moving into lab-like environments. Even very strict greenhouse horticulture companies still get the virus, so you can’t blame yourself in such a case.” There may be an opportunity there for indoor farms, where the pathogen has less chance of entering, estimates Jos.
One of the ways the virus can enter a business is through carts. “A virus always needs a carrier,” explains Jos. “Unlike a bacterium, a pathogen cannot live on its own.”
Cart disinfection is therefore important. At the moment Jos sees the most demand for this from North America and Russia. That does not automatically mean that the pathogen is more violent there, many large projects are simply put away in those areas.
It’s not just carts, they also see an increase in room disinfection at Frans Veugen. “Not only during the crop rotation, but also in between. Then you talk about corridors, process areas, canteens, toilet areas, areas where there are no plants, but which still need to be disinfected periodically.”
This disinfection is done with fog equipment, sometimes with the same equipment as in the greenhouse, and for smaller rooms with smaller nebulizers.
Disinfecting is important, because anyone can be infected anywhere. “We have seen that with that other virus. The fact that we are eating a sandwich does not mean that the virus is also on a break.”
In areas with logistical intersections, where everyone comes together, disinfection is essential. “For that reason, we see that disinfection is increasingly leaving the greenhouse.”
all measures, the pathogen continues to spread, Jos also sees. “But of course we want to get rid of the virus, a healthy sector is the best sector.”
To achieve that, focus is of the utmost importance. “Usually, hygiene is topical for a few weeks or months, and then people lose focus again. It is very difficult to keep that chain closed, because it requires a great deal of discipline. But you can’t afford to get ‘virus tired’ from a business point of view. Otherwise, we as a sector will not be able to get rid of it.”
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