By: Marcel Bruins
EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUR OPEAN SEED I 39
Quiz question: what is the name of the fourth state of matter after solid, liquid, and gas? It’s plasma! And did you know that it makes up 99 per cent of our universe? What if we told you that there is now a way to use plasma to treat and disinfect your seeds!
But first let’s get back to what plasma actually is. Basically, it is superheated matter, and it is so hot that the electrons are ripped away from the atoms, resulting in an ionized gas. We can witness plasma as it glows in the form of stars or nebulas, and even the auroras that sometimes ripple above the north and south poles. Lightning is one of nature’s ways of making plasma, but plasma is also present in the neon signs along our city streets. And so is our sun, the star that makes life on earth possible.
CLEANING SEEDS BY LIGHTNING
The company VitalFluid has developed a process by which plasma-activated water (PAW) is generated by electrical discharge. This mimics the process in nature, where PAW, in the form of rain is generated during lightning. And this type of water contains various reactive molecules such as nitrogen oxide and hydrogen peroxide which have the potential to inactivate microorganisms.
Testing has shown that PAW can be used for seed sanitation, as it removes fungi, bacteria and viruses. VitalFluid’s CEO, Paul Leenders is very excited about all the possibilities of Plasma Activated Water: “It is a sustainable solution for many issues in agriculture without using chemicals. By only using ambient air, water, and (green) electricity, it can clean seeds and crops from pathogens and supply crops the nutrient nitrogen.”
VitalFluid has recently teamed up with PETKUS to boost the development of naturebased seed treatment solutions for flower and vegetable seeds. The technologies developed by both companies complement each other very well, allowing for more effective seed treatments. VitalFluid has developed a process to generate Plasma Activate Water (PAW). And PETKUS applies this technology to make their seed disinfection process HySeed Bio even more effective.
BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
“By combining the technologies of VitalFluid and PETKUS, a complete seed treatment package can be offered,” says Marcel Wolbrink, managing director of PETKUS Selecta. This can be achieved in different ways; for example, by applying PAW onto seeds in a batch process, which enables application of PAW with high reproducibility at desired dosages (Selecta CF04 bio treater). “Another option is to combine PAW with the MultiCoater CM HySeed bio unit that disinfects seeds with active steam,” he adds.
For effective seed treatment technology, it is crucial that the PAW can be applied to the seeds in a reproducible manner and in the desired dosage. For this purpose, PETKUS Selecta designed a fully automated set-up, the Selecta CF04 bio treater. The CF04 bio enables to dose each batch of seeds very precisely and ensures a uniform treatment of the seed that is reproducible for all batches of a seed lot. The entire treatment process in the CF04 bio treater is fully automated and is carried out with developed recipes. The information for each batch is stored and the treatment parameters can be traced back.
Ongoing research with PAW to remove seedborne diseases, carried out at VitalFluid, in cooperation with Ineke Wijkamp from Seed2Plant, showed a significant reduction of fungal and bacterial contaminants. In specific cases 100 per cent removal of pathogens was achieved after the sanitation process with PAW, without significant negative effect on germination. “In some cases of sanitation of flower seeds with a high contamination of general fungi, the germination was improved up to 130 per cent, as compared to the untreated control; basically, due to the removal of excess of fungal spores from the seed surface,” says Wijkamp.
By only using ambient air, water, and (green) electricity, seeds and crops can be cleaned from pathogens.
PETKUS HySeed Bio disinfects seeds naturally with Active Steam treatment and plasma activated water.
By copying lightning VitalFluid has developed a nature-based seed treatment to clean seeds from pathogens without chemicals. VitalFluid has developed a process by which PAW is generated by electrical discharge. This mimics the process in nature, where PAW, in the form of rain is generated during lightning. The characteristic of PAW to generate reactive species infers the potential to inactivate microorganisms. With this technology it’s possible to use PAW for seed treatment to increase the health status of vegetable and flower seeds.
With plasma activated water we offer seed companies a tool to produce clean, healthy seeds without negative effects for the environment. You can clean your seeds by soaking or spraying the seeds with plasma activated water. This will be produced on-site with only ambient air, demineralized water, and electricity. PAW is produced without the use of any toxins or chemicals, furthermore it leaves no residue.
Several crop-pathogen combinations have been tested already, for example crops such as onion, carrot, lettuce and cabbage, in combination with pathogen species such as Alternaria, Aspergillus, Botrytis, Cladosporium, Fusarium and Xanthomonas.
Test with PAW to remove these seedborne diseases, showed a significant reduction of fungal and bacterial contaminants; in specific cases 100% removal of pathogens was achieved after the sanitation process with PAW, without significant negative effect on germination.
In some cases of sanitation of flower seeds with a high contamination of general fungi, the germination was improved up to 130%, as compared to the untreated control; basically, due to the removal of excess of fungal spores from the seed surface.
VitalFluid has developed different units to be able to perform seed treatment geared specifically towards different crop-pathosystems. Smaller batches can easily be treated with our Aegir PAW Unit. To treat bigger batches VitalFluid has set up a partnership with Petkus-Selecta. Together with the experience and know-how of Petkus-Selecta on steam treatment, called HySeed bio, we are a great team to provide sustainable seed treatment solutions!