Biodegradable fungicide in the works for Chilean fruit industry
A Chilean company has embarked on a project to develop a natural fungicide and bactericide that could be used in the fruit industry, with co-financing from the country's Foundation for Agricultural Innovation (FIA).
The project led by Quitoquímica aims to develop a chitosan-based spray that is biodegradable and biocompatible, with eight combinations to be trialed in relation to fungi such as Botrytis and Colletotrichum, as well as bacteria like E. Coli and Salmonella.
Project coordinator Galo Cárdenas said the antimocrobial benefits of crustacean-based chitosan were based in its combination of metal ions and other additives that enhance its use against many problems fruit can have.
The chitosan products will be tested on strawberries, raspberries and raspberries, with application to take place both in the field and also in the packing stage to avoid the build-up of mould while in storage.
Cárdenas said blueberries were the toughest in the group to manage as the fruit needed to remain opaque and spraying could lead to taking off the bloom. A sprinkling system will be used to try and overcome this obstacle in cold chambers for berries that will be frozen.
FIA initiative supervisor Alfonso Yévenez said the biggest comparative advantage of the technology was that the products could compete with existing fungicides and pesticides that were toxic both for the environment and operators.