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In today’s market, tomatoes are held to incredibly high aesthetic standards. Only the best-looking produce makes it on to supermarket shelves. If tomatoes don’t ripen at the right time, they cannot be sold – which creates waste and unnecessary expense for producers. In short, tomato producers have to make sure their produce is in perfect condition at exactly the right time.
This can be a challenge, especially in colder climates towards the end of the growing season when days grow shorter and the sun loses its intensity. Under these conditions, ripening takes longer, and at some point, will stop altogether. Using chemicals such as ethephon to ripen tomatoes in greenhouses is either banned or rejected by consumers as they can leave residue on the produce. Natural ripening processes require extra heating and lighting at the end of the season, which can be very costly. Linde has developed a solution that supports greenhouse ripening without the use of chemicals, enabling producers to make the most out of their last harvests.
What is BANARG®?
BANARG® Control is a mobile dosing solution designed to be used in greenhouses to ripen tomatoes before they are harvested. It can be installed in all types of greenhouses used to grow tomatoes. This easy-to-use system feeds a bespoke, safe BANARG® gas mixture into greenhouses, allowing it to be carefully controlled and targeted to certain areas to ensure that produce ripens exactly when it is needed.
Safe, versatile gas
The BANARG gas mixture comprises 96 percent nitrogen and 4 percent ethylene. Ethylene is a plant hormone that stimulates plant growth and ripening. It is classified as a plant protection product and must therefore be authorised for use in Europe in line with European Regulation 1107/2009. Linde’s BANARG solution has been approved for ripening tomatoes in Switzerland and Belgium.
This all-in solution consists of two independent wireless ethylene sensors. These sensors send data to the BANARG Control measurement kit, which is directly connected to a gas bundle containing the BANARG mixture. If the ethylene concentration in the greenhouse drops below a certain preset level, the measurement kit opens the gas valve, closing it again once the target concentration has been reached.
The system comes with a seven-inch touchscreen display to show the ethylene concentration levels and gas feed. The sensors are positioned in greenhouses among the tomato plants, where they measure ethylene concentrations down to ppm levels (0-10 ppm). They wirelessly transmit the ethylene concentration data over a distance of up to 150 meters to the measurement kit. Two independent control loops allow gas levels to be monitored and controlled at two different greenhouses at the same time.
The entire system is designed for ease of installation and maintenance. It also comes with a timer so the operator can program start and stop times, plus a data logging function (up to 100 million datasets can be stored on an external DS card for traceability).
- Fast, easy installation
- Low maintenance with sensors easily replaced
- Ease of operation with touchscreen display and timer
- Ability to manage two greenhouses simultaneously – regardless of size
- Traceability for the greenhouse operator