Ripening gas BANARG® has been known for several years as an agent for the optimal ripening of bananas and citrus fruits. However, the innovative process from the Linde Gases Division is now also being used more and more frequently during the production of tomatoes in greenhouses. The advantages for the user are numerous for tomatoes. BANARG® Control can make a large and important contribution to the reduction of food waste through the possibility of exact control and acceleration, project engineer Lena Gutmann said in an interview.
Up to now, the Ethephon ripening accelerator has often been used in commercial horticulture. However, the use of ethephon to ripen tomatoes in greenhouses is sometimes prohibited or rejected by consumers because it can leave residues on the products. "Therefore, an alternative has been sought to accelerate the ripening process," says Gutmann. "We have been keen to bring this application onto the market for some time. However, since the BANARG® ripening gas is classified as a crop protection agent, the very complex approval procedure must be repeated for each product application and the possible risks must be examined in detail."
Towards the end of the growing season, the days become shorter and the sun loses its intensity - this is when the optimal degree of ripeness is often a real challenge. BANARG® Control is a sustainable alternative to intensified heating and lighting.
Profitable for medium-sized to large growers
In addition to the application on bananas and citrus fruits, Linde LLC was also granted the approval for the tomato this year. The 4% ethylene contained in BANARG®, a natural plant hormone, influences germ growth, sprouting and fruit ripening. "Ethylene is a highly flammable gas, but is not subject to the explosion protection regulations due to the small proportion within the BANARG® gas mixture. In combination with our developed dosing unit BANARG® Control, this gas can now be dosed not only safely but also in the ppm range. This means that the desired degree of ripeness is achieved in just a few days, and even the last annual harvests achieve optimum quality without having to be destroyed," explains Gutman.
Due to the minimized product loss, BANARG® Control demonstrably leads to a reduction in production costs. The price-performance ratio, however, depends strongly on the customer, his requirements and his production quantity. Gutmann: "Because the costs are made up of the costs for the metering unit and the gas requirement. We also recommend annual maintenance of the unit and the sensor. As soon as the annual harvest loss exceeds a value of 1,700 EUR at the end of the season, the use of BANARG® Control is definitely worthwhile."
By using the new system, it is possible to manage two greenhouses at the same time, regardless of their size.
Considerable potential in the near future
BANARG® Control is already on the market in the Netherlands but also in Switzerland. "If you look at the numbers of the ever-increasing world population, it is a real challenge to ensure that people will continue to be adequately fed in the future. We help to ensure that the last harvests of tomatoes are ripened quickly and in a targeted manner, and we also help to avoid waste that is not perfectly ripe. This is a small but important point in which we see great potential for the future."