Ozone as a disinfectant agent is gaining more and more followers in agriculture. Thanks to its great oxidizing power, this substance is capable of destroying the majority of fungi, viruses, and bacteria that affect crops, which allows producers to increase their productivity and decrease their use of chemical products, stated Angel Manuel Sereno, from Cosemar Ozono, a company with Spanish capital and nearly a hundred clients in Aragon. The figures vary according to crop; however, the use of phytosanitary products decreases by at least 20-25%, and production increases by a minimum of 10-15%, Sereno said.
There are already success stories in Aragon. The Global Hermanos Miguel García SAT 9997 company, located in Belver de Cinca, is among the pioneers in the use of this substance in the field. The agrarian transformation society, which has 31 partners that produce stone-fruits, has been working with ozone for 15 years and it recently took a new step with the aim of integrating it into their entire production chain.
Currently, it uses ozone in its storage system, as well as in the process to screen and package fruit. However, their goal is to get it into the farms through irrigation water, which they hope will have a bigger impact, stated Angel Maria Miguel, the manager of the company.
From irrigation water to conservation chambers
The pilot test is being carried out on a farm of about 6,600 m². Some generators produce the ozone that they inject into the irrigation water with the intention of oxygenating the roots of the trees to strengthen them to produce more and better fruit. "In the end, the idea is watering the crops with treated water that is free of germs, viruses, fungi, and bacteria, but that also has the ability to heal and regenerate the plant, strengthening the trees," stated Miguel.
Another of the great benefits of ozone is that it allows extending the fruit's shelf life, which is essential when it comes to products destined for export. SAT produces about 15,000 tons of fruit a year, most of which is sent to different countries in Europe.
Ozone is injected into the air in its two storage chambers and then into the water in the fruit washers used before the screening and packaging process, thus eliminating any pathogens from the fruit, which can affect its conservation.
"In addition, the ozone helps keep humidity levels high, which prevents the fruit from dehydrating, losing quality and weight, and also helps neutralize ethylene," Sereno stated.