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The benefits of using different coloured shading nets

Shade nets came into use about a decade ago to protect agricultural crops from the elements. Recently, it was discovered that the use of coloured networks improves the quality of the fruit and protects them from pests.

Over a decade ago, plantations in the Sea of ​​Galilee and the Negev were tinted black. These were shaded areas spreading over the plantations to protect the crops from wind and from solar radiation during the summer months, as well as to save irrigation water. New research from the Volcani Institute of the Ministry of Agriculture has revealed the many advantages of changing the colour of the shading nets.

While nets were originally used mainly to protect the crops from the elements, the study found that changing their colour to red, yellow, white or pearl also affects the quality of fruits and vegetables, their size, shelf life, the duration of their ripening process shelf life and even the level of eco-friendliness of the crops.

"The different colours help us to achieve the desired properties because they allow us to shape the wavelength of solar radiation, the type of lighting, the manner of its distribution and its intensity," explained Dr David Ben Yakir, insect and pest expert who participated in the study.

Ben Yakir explained that "different types of radiation can affect even the amount of vitamins and healthy content in fruits. A purple net, for example, increases the level of vitamins such as vitamin D."

Red shades were able to postpone the ripening dates of grapes and other fruits, while white and pearl actually hasten this process. Many fruits, such as apples, peaches, pears, persimmons and grapes increased significantly in size as a result of a combination of colours. In some cases, the plants and trees consumed less water and the fruit colour was more attractive.

For their part, yellow shades excelled in remedying infertility and rejuvenation. "Yellow shades were placed over vineyards that were not bearing that much fruit and the high fertility returned, preventing growers from having to uproot their vineyards."

The researchers were first concerned about the use of yellow, because this colour has been known to attract pests. "The study found that not only did yellow shades not increase the risk of attracting insects, they even reduced it," affirmed Dr. Ben Yakir. "What is interesting is that the insects that were attracted to the yellow net remained on the net, keeping them away from the plants."

According to the researchers, there were 40 times more aphids with yellow than with black mesh, but the number of insects that actually penetrated through the net and reached the plants was halved compared to black mesh. "The yellow net reduces the amount of insects coming in contact with the crops, thus helping reduce the amount of chemical pesticides used." 

Upon publication of these research findings, different colour shapes have entered the Israeli agricultural market, arising interest in many other countries, including the United States, Italy, Spain, Turkey, Australia and New Zealand.

Telephone: 03-9683517 03-9683814
Cellphone: 050-6220517
Fax: 03-9604180

Department of Entomology
Agricultural Research Organization
The Volcani Center
P.O.Box 6, Bet Dagan 50250, Israel

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