Persistent greenhouse pests will soon be a thing
of the past if Menno Koehoorn has his way. The CEO of TechMist Spray Solutions
has been working for the past eight years developing Sparc™, an unparalleled
agricultural disinfection solution to an age-old problem.
“This new patented technology can reduce the
overall greenhouse chemical footprint,” promises Menno. “Sparc™ provides a
pesticide-free alternative to controlling insects and pathogens with a
zero-residue disinfection solution that is completely safe for greenhouse
Sparc™ is typically pumped into greenhouses through the carbon dioxide
distribution system and then disbursed with circulation fans, causing swift
cell failure in surrounding pathogens. Once the treatment is complete, the
Sparc™ particle cloud reduces to simple organic molecules.
“It can be done at night with no down time and
workers can continue during the day to prepare the facility for the next crop,”
Menno explains. “Pathogen control costs are minimized if not eliminated, crop
yields are maximized, and pesticides are not required at the time of greenhouse
After previous Agri-Innovation projects helped
validate Sparc™ efficacy for pest management, Menno launched a subsequent study
to develop and test enhancements such as remote sensing technology and data
analysis software, both necessary features for accessing broader market
opportunities. With funding through the Canada-BC Agri-Innovation Program, the
upgrades were successfully completed and the TechMist team can now monitor
global installations at their Abbotsford headquarters.
With improvements to the Canary™, an environmental
sensing device and database, growers can measure pathogen reduction rates after each treatment,
adjust dosage levels if necessary, and track crop health and performance
“One of our greatest challenges was determining
thresholds of effective Sparc™ treatments relative to environmental
conditions,” Menno recalls. “We’re now able to better isolate unique environmental factors to
enhance each cycle while recording data to ensure treatment consistency and
So far studies on Sparc™-treated greenhouses
have confirmed a sizeable return on investment for farmers (even the same day),
and yields increasing from a 15 percent loss to almost non-existent losses in
the first year of treatment.
Pepper Weevil pressure, for instance, was eliminated for eight months following a
while other persistent greenhouse pathogens face similar eradication, sometimes
“Last year we eliminated Green Mottle Mosaic
Virus from cucumbers that showed up in every crop for roughly 30 years prior to
Sparc™ treatment,” Menno recalls, adding that this year the same grower has
experienced none for four crops.
Another cucumber house is now rid of Thrips
during the early growing period, yielding an increase of eight cucumbers per plant in the first few
“Our treatment is measurable, you can see if
you’ve achieved your target after each cycle so there is no more guessing,”
says Menno, adding that operators can even potentially attain organic
certification with exclusive use of Sparc™.
Having achieved commercialization, TechMist has
been able to forge new partnerships and is teaming with BW Global Greenhouses,
Ecoation Innovative Solutions and other strategic partners to enter the
For more information visit www.techmist.com/
Funding: $169,210 provided by the Governments of Canada and British Columbia through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. (INV043)
Opinions expressed in this document are those of the author and not necessarily those of Agriculture and Agri-food Canada or the BC Ministry of Agriculture. The Government of Canada and the BC Ministry of Agriculture and their directors, agents, employees or contractors will not be liable for any claims, damages, or losses of any kind whatsoever arising out of the use of, or reliance upon, this information.