Silica nano-layers and embedded compounds to protect against sun and fungi in fruit crops

Viticulture and fruit growing are confronted with a number of biotic and abiotic stress factors, which can lead to high pesticide use and possible crop losses. Within the framework of a project funded by the European Union (https://www.eurostars-eureka.eu/), a water-soluble sprayable formulation is to be developed that produces silicon dioxide nanolayers on plant surfaces in a sol-gel polymerisation process. In combination with certain active ingredients, it is intended to prevent fungal attack (e.g. Mildews) and sunburn. The cooperation partners want to develop, produce and market innovative products in order to reduce biotic and abiotic stresses in viticulture and fruit production and to improve the marketing of fruit. Treatments with non-toxic sprays that form a silica nanolayer, in which UV-protective and/or active ingredients against fungal pathogens can be embedded, could improve crop quality and improve fruit shelf life by preventing gray mold infections. In both cases, economic losses would be reduced.

Scanning electron microscope image of the lower surface of a grapevine leaf coated with a silica nanolayer. The image section was chosen in such a way that a transverse fracture edge makes the coating visible. The desired layer thickness can be seen beyond the fracture edge.

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