Chilean scientists develop chemical to avoid agricultural losses due to frost

The innovation was generated after successful research within the laboratories of the Advanced Polymer Research Center (Cipa) and field validations carried out at the Faculty of Agronomy of the University of Concepción.

Without a doubt, crop protection is a permanent challenge for agribusiness, especially when it comes to spring frosts. ANDn Chile, for example, this phenomenon has generated losses between 130 and 320 million dollars a year and is expected to increase due to the displacement of fruit plantations from the central zone, to the south of the country due to the low availability of water.

For this, scientists Advanced Polymer Research Center (Cip) and the University of Concepcion (UdeC) decided to tackle this challenge and formulated the BioNofrost antifreeze, after the allocation of resources granted by the National Research and Development Agency (ANID). The investigation was developed in two stages; In the first, the antifreeze was developed by Cipa scientists and validated at the UdeC experimental station in Chillán. In the second stage, the process has been scaled and the validation tests have been extended in productive orchards.

Along these lines, thanks to the alliance with Copeval, leading national company inComprehensive distribution of products and services for agriculture, interested in developing BioNofrost antifreeze, patent applications were filed in the European Union, the United States, Colombia, Brazil and Chile, where the Patent has already been granted.

One of those in charge of this scientific challenge at Cipa is the doctor in Chemical Sciences, Saddys Rodríguez, who valued the obtaining of the patent granted by the National Institute of Industrial Property, since after rigorous evaluations, the exclusive right granted by the state for the protection of the BioNofrost invention was determined.

“Although there are countless commercial products on the market to combat frost, In none of them is a polymeric biomimetic solute used as an active ingredient for its application in plants susceptible to frost damage in different stages of growth, having promising results after applying BioNoFrost in controlled conditions of -5°C for 4 hours”, explains Dr. Rodríguez.

In turn, Rodríguez adds that "we are manufacturing a production unit that will be located in the Copeval and will allow the scaling of the Bio Nofrost when producing 10 liters per hour. In addition, this technology will be transferred to the same entity so that it can be marketed”.

Characteristics that allowed establishing an alliance with Copeval, the largest distributor of agro-inputs and agricultural services in the country, so development has several relevances, indicates Claudio Munoz, deputy manager of Innovation and Development of Phytosanitary products of the organization.

Muñoz explains that Bio Nofrost presents a high level of commercial scaling, since from the agronomic point of view the problem of frost occurs every year and although, this product was evaluated in kiwis, blueberries and cherry trees, there are many other crops that are sensitive to frost.

"The potential market area is very large, because if you add the areas of crops sensitive to this event, you will find 17 hectares of blueberries, 60 of cherry trees, 50 of table vines and 120 of viniferous vines, where 80% are in areas sensitive to frost or at risk of falling”, says Muñoz.

And he adds that “we saw in this innovation an accessible tool for users, since it is preventive and can be applied when the frost period begins. For this, a management plan is applied in the use of the product and it is used periodically during times when there is a high probability of frost occurrence.

The idea that initially It began to be developed in 2014 with a bibliographic review, it became an innovative product and among its preliminary results it reached twice the effectiveness compared to the closest competitor.. In addition, the product does not have harmful effects on the plantations, so the fruits would maintain their color, flavor, texture and hardness.

Although from a technical point of view there are tools for frost control, penetration of these is very low due to the high costs involved in implementing them, which is why most crops do not have protection and BioNofrost reduces the risks for plantations that could be damaged by frost.

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