Posts Tagged ‘ Spain ’

Seawater Greenhouse growing veggies in the desert

The seawater greenhouse developed by UK-based Seawater Greenhouse is a low-cost solution for year-round crop production in some of the world’s hottest and driest regions. It does this using seawater and sunlight. The technology imitates natural processes, helping to restore the environment while significantly reducing the operating costs of greenhouse horticulture.

The first project was in Tererife, Spain, in 1992 where a prototype was built in England and shipped to Spain. This was a pilot project, which validated the concept and demonstrated the potential for other arid regions.

In 2000 another greenhouse was built in Abu Dhabi to try out the concept in a different climate, where humidity is higher than in Spain. Again, this was a success. The greenhouse provides a cooler climate that enables crops to be grown year-round, even in the extreme heat of the summer months. It also allows for the reclamation of salt-infected land by not relying, at all, on groundwater resources. It is a major benefit to local agriculture.

Seawater Greenhouse is now nearing completion of a new greenhouse to tame the harsh Australian outback. The greenhouse uses a natural distillation process to turn seawater, pumped from the nearby Spencer Gulf by solar powered pumps, to grow tomatoes hydroponically. The 2500m² greenhouse is capable of producing 100% of the energy needed, but also has a back-up power system in case of malfunction. The first crop will be ready to harvest in October.

The company will build two further greenhouses on this site, a 2 ha greenhouse is planned for early next year and a 10 ha greenhouse will be built in 2012. The tomatoes produced will at first be sold on the local market, and as production increases they will be sold nationally. Philipp Saumweber, Seawater Greenhouse Managing Director, said that the purpose of the greenhouses was to supply the domestic market in Australia.

Besides the production of tomatoes, the site will also grow citrus fruit on land alongside the greenhouses, which will be irrigated using desalinated water. Philipp said that the soil beneath the sand is good. Gourmet sea salt will also be produced as a by-product of this system.

For further information contact:
Seawater Greenhouse (Australia) Pty Ltd, Section 680 National Hwy A1,
Winninowie, SA, 5710
Fax: +61 8 8643-6178

Issue 95: Bioinsecticide Breakthrough

Issue 95
July/August – 2007
Story Title: Bioinsecticide Breakthrough
by: Ana Ollo Hualde

A new bioinsecticide – non-contaminant and harmless, and is highly effective against the most common greenhouse pest in Almeria, Spain.

A research team at the Public University of Navarre (Spain), led by Professor in Plant Production, Primitivo Caballero Murillo, has developed a new natural bioinsecticide which is non-contaminant and harmless to humans and animals (including other insects) but is, nevertheless, very effective against the most common greenhouse pest in the Almeria region and other areas.

The patent is to be exploited for the first time in Spain by the main Fruit & Vegetable Crop and Export Producers’ Association in Almeria, COEXPHAL, that brings together more than 90 companies, 60 of them cooperatives in which some 10,000 farmers work, and who produce 80% of the fruit and vegetable harvest in this Andalusian province.

It is an important milestone in the transfer to society of applied technology and research and developed by the Public University of Navarre – a success story of cooperation between University and enterprise.

Clean, environmentally-friendly technologies
The Crop Protection Research Group at the University School of Agricultural Engineers of the Public University of Navarre have been working for a number of years now on developing various biological pesticides by means of clean and environmentally-friendly technologies.

One of the most relevant recent contributions has been the molecular and insecticide characterization of a baculovirus which affects the Small Spotted Willow (UK)/beet armyworm (US), Spodoptera exigua. This lepidoptera is the pest responsible for the greatest damage to the main greenhouse crops in Almeria such as tomato, pepper, watermelon, melon, cucumber and aubergine (eggplant), amongst others. It is a pest that causes great production costs and significant economic loss.

Sweet green pepper greenhouse in Almeria, Spain.

In order to control the pest, over the past 60 years systematic and almost exclusive use has been made of chemical pesticides. This abuse has produced quite a number of problems, such as the development of resistance by the insect pest and the accumulation of chemical waste in the environment which has led to a situation that is non-sustainable. Moreover, the European norms limiting waste have to be complied with when marketing fruit and vegetables.

Research teams throughout the world are currently working on the development of bioinsecticides which enable the provision of protection systems for sustainable crops and which are safe for the health of people and the conservation of the environment. In this respect, one of the most promising alternatives is the series of bioinsecticides based on the baculovirus. These pathogenic virus of insects bring together highly desirable insecticide properties – good efficaciousness, high ecological selectivity and the non-generation of toxic waste. Moreover, its high compatibility with most pest control methods (including with other biological control agents and chemical control) has to be underlined. All this has been helped by the fact that it is the only virus recommended by the FAO (Food & Agriculture Organization) at the UN and approved by WHO (World Health Organization) for use as biological control agents. There are currently more than 30 bioinsecticides based on this type of technology.

COEXPHAL producers’ association market the product
The results from the research team have enabled the application for taking out a patent on the utilities which certain genotypes of this baculovirus have for the control of the Spodoptera pest in greenhouse fruit and vegetable crops in the south of Spain.

More specifically, the patent has been taken out on six new genotypes of the nuclear polyhydron virus of the Spodoptera, which has shown its specific efficacy in the larvae of this insect. In this respect, the team has invented a product that involves clean and safe technology as it does not leave any toxic waste either for crops, humans or animals.

The success of this new bioinsecticide caught the attention of the main Fruit & Vegetable Producers’ Association in Almeria, COEXPHAL, with which the researchers have signed two research contracts over the past two years. The aim of these was to undertake two projects to determine the insecticide potential of this baculovirus for the control of Spodoptera over more than 300 hectares of market garden greenhouses in Almeria. The results showed that the patented baculovirus protects the crops better than any other control method that has been used to date (mainly various chemical pesticides). Moreover, the use of the baculovirus significantly favours the more extensive use of biological control in greenhouse areas and eliminates the problems of the waste generated on using chemical pesticides.

The farmers themselves, the professional experts, the cooperatives and the research team scientists from the Public University of Navarre have all viewed these results very positively. Proof of this is that, in the market gardening zone of Almeria, a demand has been generated for the treatment next year of several thousand hectares with the baculovirus developed at the Public University of Navarre.

The Public University of Navarre has transferred this technology to COEXPHAL by means of signing an exclusive licence contract for the exploitation of the invention, which is currently pending a patent.

This means that the Association will exclusively exploit this invention, enabling it to use, manufacture and sell this bioinsecticide. In exchange, the Public University of Navarre will receive 180,000 euros. Besides, each year over the duration of the 20-year contract, COEXPHAL will earmark 4.2% of the sales for carrying out R&D work or for consultations related to the development of the patent.

For further information contact:
Ana Ollo Hualde, Nafarroako Unibertsitate Publikoa
Ph: (+34) 948 169033