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The French start-up company UV Boosting has developed a unique solution to fight against grapevine pests and reduce the need to resort to chemical inputs.
All methods are good for limiting the use of plant protection agents within agriculture. Even those that are among the most original… like this new technology which comes as a result of French research and which is currently being tried out in a Champagne vineyard. Developed by the company UV Boosting, it uses ultraviolet-C flashes in order to boost plants’ natural resistance. Each species of plant indeed possesses within its gene pool mechanisms for fighting against pests (fungi, bacteria, viruses, plant bugs…). Yet exposing plants to UV-C rays triggers this defence mechanism even before a pathogen appears. When applied to grapevines, that allows the plant to be better equipped when a fungal disease such as mildew or oidium appears. Not only is damage to the vine limited, but it then no longer becomes necessary to systematically apply an anti-fungal agent.
An adaptable solution
Operationally, the solution put forward by UV Boosting has many advantages, first and foremost its adaptability to the majority of standard agricultural machines. The apparatus is made up of several UV panels which are mounted vertically onto a base frame that can be fitted onto the front of any tractor. As the vehicle passes, the vine roots are stimulated for a fraction of a second by the UV-C rays. This brief exposure proves itself to be sufficiently effective to allow winegrowers to increase the protection of their vines, and thus reduce their dependency on chemical inputs. Additionally, the process is able to be carried out regardless of the weather, unlike all the other classic crop protection measures. Finally, this solution leaves behind no residue – the treatment requires no latency period before the harvest of the grape.
The revolutionary technology by UV Boosting was born inside a laboratory at the University of Avignon. Having discovered that UV-C flashes increased the resistance of plants when faced with different pathogens, the researchers Laurent Urban and Jawad Aarrouf registered an initial patent in 2015. They then joined forces with Yves Matton, co-founder of Technofounders, to create UV Boosting in 2017. The aim was to then move to the project’s industrial phase.
Four years later, it’s a done deal. The device put forward by UV Boosting has already attracted several customers, and the start-up has become one of the beneficiaries of investment from the Relaunch France (France Relance) strategy, backed by the French Ecological Transition Agency (l’Ademe). Awarded with the Prize for Innovation during the Sparkling Wine Technology Exhibition VITeff 2021, the solution put forward by UV Boosting has equally drawn attention from the Champagne Committee for the Winemaking Profession. They have decided to carry out a real-world test of the technology for 3 years in the experimental wine farm of Plumecoq, located in the department of Marne, north-eastern France.