The demand among European fruit growers for mobile wind machines that protect against night frost increases annually. "The climate is changing, and growers no longer settle for a 50% harvest or inferior quality. They see the results from fellow growers and opt for crop security," says Ernst Slabbekoorn.
His Dutch company Swift International distributes these mobile wind machines known as FrostFans.eu, manufactured in New Zealand. A new version of this mobile frost protection machine was launched in 2019 and is now available in a large and smaller variant. These cover six and four hectares of fruit, respectively.
"You can now find these wind machines in Portugal, Italy, Benelux, Macedonia, Greece, Serbia, Croatia, Scandinavia, and the United Kingdom. We've delivered dozens of machines recently and are the market leader in this area. There's a particularly high demand from top fruit, blueberry, and pomegranate growers and those who do covered berry and kiwi cultivation."
"Last spring, in Belgium and Scandinavia, for example, the frost considerably damaged the fruit. Growers get significantly better quality and yields when they use our machines. Then demand immediately explodes. There are also those who support sustainable developments, and our machines fit in very well with that," explains Ernst.
He says these machines' biggest advantages are their mobility and their automatic stop-start system. "Growers can put these fans to use 15 minutes after delivery. Operational costs are very low, thanks to a relatively simple, durable design. And because of their mobility, these machines can also easily be leased."
"They have an ingenious design with the most effective per KW input. Pressurized air is blown toward the crop. The machine can rotate or oscillate anywhere between zero and 360 degrees, and you can set its rotation speed according to current conditions. You can use these anti-frost machines for drying and pollination too. Plus, they produce promising results when it comes to cooling," Ernst continues.
Swift International works with its service partner Zeelandtrac to distribute these wind machines. They arrive at Zeelandtrac, where they are prepared for operation and delivered, ready to go, at any location. Zeelandtrac also provides technical support and can give demonstrations. "The machines are readily available, and we're in talks with several service partners. Orders for spring 2023 can be confirmed with delivery certainty until November 30, 2022, while stocks last."
"The changing climate increases the chance of frost. Irrigation is usually used, but having enough water at the appropriate time is becoming an issue too. The qualitative and quantitative damage of frost is difficult to calculate, but these mobile night frost protection machines offer a solution. And it often pays for itself by preventing frost within a single season. However, we don't offer a no-frost guarantee," Ernst concludes.