The Pest Is History

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 workers.”

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 cleanout.”

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 year-over-year.

“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 facilitate research.”

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  Sparc™ treatment, while other persistent greenhouse pathogens face similar eradication, sometimes for years.

“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 weeks alone.

“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 market. 

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.