Garlic is not just a repellent for vampires – it wards away greenhouse pests too

Fumigreen is a complex based on natural black garlic extract (Allium sativum), which has fungicidal properties and pyrethrum, a natural insecticide obtained from several flowers, particularly Tanacetum cinerariifolium.

An EU funded project seeks to develop and introduce commercial formulations of the new environmentally sustainable fumigants.

Protecting the environment has become an urgent priority in all walks of life. Simply put, “there is no planet B”. Comprehensive research and public discussions are more and more in support of legislation against soil degradation, toxic chemicals, climate change, and pollinator mortality. And these actions will impact ornamental production.

Why are we interested in bio fumigants?

The impact of the sustainability debate on agriculture is, of course, tremendous and floriculture is no exception: In fact, it probably is one of the most affected sectors since, at one end, increasingly stringent restrictions heavily limit the pest and disease control products allowed for use, yet, in the end, customers expect perfect unblemished long-lasting flowers. Achieving this is no easy feat. That is why we were interested to learn more about an EU funded project to develop sustainable fumigants to control whiteflies (Trialeurodes vaporariorum) and botrytis or grey mould (Botrytis cinerea) – possibly two of the worst problems attacking flowers and ornamental plants, capable of rendering them completely unmarketable. They also pose severe problems in the greenhouse production of fruits and vegetables.

Who is behind the project?

This project has brought policymakers, investment companies and commercial pesticide companies together to identify and develop bio-based fumigants.

Finnova Foundation is an EU level organisation that supports financing for sustainable development.

FumiHogar is a Belgian/Spanish company with long experience in pest fumigation.

What is the goal?

FumiHogar already has experience in using bio disinfecting products for surfaces, spaces and even inside washing machines.

The project aims at developing fumigants based on natural black garlic extract (Allium sativum), which has fungicidal properties and pyrethrum, a natural insecticide obtained from several flowers particularly Tanacetum cinerariifolium. Application of these natural ingredients as fumigants is done via “smoke cans”, a straightforward technology that is long-proven for efficacy and low risk.

The active ingredients are carried on white smoke, composed of CO2 and water that spreads through the greenhouse thoroughly covering all surfaces uniformly, including the plant canopy, soil, benches and in fact every corner of the greenhouse.

It is a dry technology, so problems with fungal proliferation or water contamination do not arise. Various trials to fine-tune dosages, and determine the treatment length and application protocols are currently under development. Treatment inside glasshouses that can be wholly closed seem easier to achieve, but trials continue for applying fumigants in more open, polyethene greenhouses.

What is currently available?

FumiHogar has experience using similar natural products for disinfestation of surfaces and spaces, plus post-harvest treatment of certain plant products, including cut flowers. They currently market fumigants based on oregano (Fumiorg®) or neem extract (Fumineem®) with outstanding results. This fumigant product line to deal with greenhouse pests will be known as Life Fumigreen.

What are the expectations?

This project is the first aim of making a fumigant using natural plant extracts for the greenhouse. The hope is to make the formula for this environmentally sustainable fumigant commercially available.

The manufacture of these bio-fumigant products will attract growers who do not wish to sacrifice quality but want to reduce their cropping operations’ carbon footprint.

The pest and disease control programmes generate no waste and have low toxicity levels creating fewer risks for workers and the environment.

The expectation is to become a great alternative to synthetic chemical pesticides, which will significantly contribute to compliance with guidelines for environmentally -safe agricultural production imposed by community and state regulations in Europe at present and soon to be adopted around the globe. Due to the nature of the fumigants’ active ingredients, there is no risk of whiteflies or grey mould becoming resistant to them. This result is a great advantage since the development of resistant strains has very often reduced the efficacy of many chemical products in the past.

About the Finnova Foundation

Finnova Foundation is a Spanish-Belgian foundation that finances innovation. Finnova aims to promote public-private cooperation through innovation to address societal challenges such as jobs, training, entrepreneurship, UN SDGs, and the circular economy, among others. Finnova works at an EU level and is headquartered in Belgium, although it also has several offices across Spain.

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