And if plants could do without pesticides to defend themselves? This is in any case the bet of the startup UV Boosting. Accompanied in particular by two researchers from Avignon specialized in plant biology, she has developed a method that stimulates the natural defenses of plants, especially vines, thanks to ultraviolet light.
To better understand the process, we can compare this advance to the vaccine in humans. "It's about exposing the plant to aggression, hoping that it will put in place a mechanism to defend itself," says Yves Matton, co-founder and technical director of UV Boosting, in La France Rouge , on Europe 1 .
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In concrete terms, these are accessories that connect to farmers' tractors "like sprayers or tools for pruning the vines," explains Yves Matton. The machines, once equipped, send UV flashes on the vines. "After exposure to UV, the plant will implement a whole metabolic cascade that will lead to the secretion of natural antifungal products that the plant produces when exposed to a fungus and that will make it more resistant," details Yves Matton. "When the pathogen will come during the season, it will be more resistant."
No risk for plants
Can UV flashes damage or disrupt the plant? No risk, ensures Yves Matton. "The dose of UV sent is tiny compared to the doses that the plant receives naturally as the season," he reassures. The method does not replace the use of pesticides but reduces their need.
"Our method reduces the need for pesticides by 50 to 75%, so the winemaker will still need a sprayer, but he will save on the purchase of pesticides, which are very expensive," says Yves Matton. "The idea is that the investment is profitable in four or seven years, it all depends on the surface of the plot," he says. The cultivation practice of UV Boosting will be marketed for the 2020 season.