2019 Winners

A non-chemical alternative for pesticides on strawberry farms

More pesticides are used on strawberries than any other produce. With an average of 22 pesticide residues remaining when you buy strawberries in the market, it's no surprise that they are number one on the Dirty Dozen. For a fruit that makes up 1/3 of the US berry industry, there must be a more health and environmentally conscious way of treating pests.

 

Using UV-C light in place of chemicals, we offer a sustainable alternative to pesticides. Today farmers using pesticides may have to treat their field many times to eliminate a pathogen and to make things worse, post-treatment no-entry/no-harvest periods can lead to a direct loss in revenue. With our solution farmers can eliminate the risks and uncertainties of chemical methods.

 

We plan to offer our treatment service to strawberry farmers by deploying UV-C light with an automated platform similar to a Roomba. Instead of cleaning carpets our solution would run up and down strawberry rows shining UV-C light to kill pathogens. Farmers can increase profit by as much as 10% by labeling their fruit as non-chemical and because our treatment is an operating expense it is tax-deductible. Results have been demonstrated at the Appalachian Fruit Research Station and pathogens treated effect other produce allowing us to scale into parallel markets. The broader impacts include healthier food for customers, reduced application of pesticides in food production, and more sustainable strawberry farming with fewer environmental impacts to local communities.

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2019 Winners
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2019 Winners
Idea No. 491