MICROWAVE SEED PRE-TREATMENT TECHNOLOGY
It is well known that microwave technologies have not yet fully utilized all their potential and can be efficiently applied to many new industrial areas. New microwave technologies can facilitate solutions of various commercial challenges such as drying of grain and herbs, defrosting of meat, fish and vegetables, low-temperature food canning, pharmaceutical component extraction. The use of microwave-extracted materials with a high level of purity has resulted in development of unique pharmaceutical drugs, which can hardly be produced by conventional technologies. Microwave technologies of extraction (from pepper, wormwood, daisy) of toxic bio-components that are harmless to humans can be used as an alternative to chemical herbicides and pesticides. It is important to emphasise, that all these results can be achieved with significant acceleration of the processing cycle and energy saving.
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE MICROWAVE TECHNOLOGIES
The results obtained by long-term research work, testing and evaluation create a firm basis for commercial solutions in all mentioned areas. However, one of the most promising applications is in the area of agriculture, where huge volume is complemented by environmental issues. Here, the microwave technology addresses major important issues and provides practical solutions that cannot sometimes be resolved by alternative technologies. For example, it can provide reconditioning of badly infected seeds, it can improve germinating capacity, it can accelerate the ripening cycle, and it can improve tolerance for drought through the development of stronger roots. All these factors in the end lead to the harvest yield growth. Considering its capability to reduce application of chemical herbicides and pesticides the microwave solution may become a basis for the modern organic agricultu
Agricultural productivity has always depended on many factors caused by weather, soil, pests, storage, etc. Certainly, not all these factors can be controlled, but those that can be controlled, are usually addressed by different technologies. Only recently an alternative technology emerged – Microwave Seed Pre-Treatment that was developed to handle in a generic way seemingly unrelated issues such as:
The major advantage of the developed technology is its cumulative effect that puts together seed disinfection and seed stimulation into a simple one-step process. More than12-yeasrs long research and commercial use have proved efficiency and flexibility of the microwave processing technology. It has been commercially used in different climatic zones of Ukraine and Russia. It can be applied to various agricultural products just by optimizing the process parameters and equipment settings. It is important to emphasize, that this technology targeting healthy food production and preserving ecological environment. It is flexible and can be easily adapted to local climatic zones in different countries and locally cultivated varieties of agricultural products.
yield stability in dry/cool climatic zones
The technology is based on fundamental biological researches that have been proven by long-term comprehensive tests. Microwave fields with properly selected parameters and application modes activate vital processes turning biological cells stronger and more resilient. More than 12-yeasrs long research carried out at Industrial Electronic Department of IIA (Ukraine) in collaboration with Agrarian Academy of Science (Ukraine) supported by more than 15 000 laboratory and field tests resulted in development of a versatile microwave unit that is reliable, safe and simple in operation and maintenance. It utilizes 2450 MHz frequency allocated for industrial use in many countries. The unit has a control panel to enter settings that correspond to different operating modes. Each mode is optimized for a specific type of seeds, weather conditions and climatic zones. The treated seeds can be kept stored packaged for up to 3-5 months before sowing without loosing the obtained qualities.
The personnel operating the unit require only basic skills and knowledge of safety procedures. Only a short training is needed before operation can be started. The unit has protection against user mistakes, overheating, or interruption in supply of seeds.
An experimental unit has also been developed to carry out applied research aiming adaptation of the technology to new climatic zones and countries.
The unit can process a wide range of seeds with the performance 900 – 2000 kg/h and can stay in operation continuously around the clock unless an operation mode needs to be changed, or a scheduled service is due. A process has been developed to determine optimal settings for any new variety of seeds, weather conditions, or new climatic zones. The optimized settings can than be applied to commercial scale seed pre-treatment to achieve the best productivity.
The results presented below are based upon nearly 15 000 experiments conducted on 50 crops cultivated in Ukraine and Russia, conducted by independent evaluators in 16 regions of Ukraine and Russia.
Harvest yield grows:
Wheat, rye, oat – up to 32%
Rice – up to 22%
Beans – up to 50%
Buck wheat – up to 36%
Sunflower – up to 28%
Soya beans – up to 28%
Rapeseeds – up to 51%
Vegetables – up to 29%
These evaluation results and test conditions are documented and proved by the evaluation certificates. The numbers show only generalized results for the best improvements registered.
More detailed results for six varieties of wheat cultivated in Ukraine are shown below
Harvest measured in metric centners per hectare.
Yellow –microwave pre-treated seeds used. Red – no microwave processing.
The results have been published in more than 120 scientific journal papers and articles in Ukraine and Russia. However, some interviews of those who uses microwave seed pre-treatment might be useful to illustrate commercial advantages of this technology.
" We started using this technology in 2002. Undoubtedly, the results were very impressive. In 2003, which was infamous for its drought, we gathered additional 159 tones of crops. In particular: soy by 20%, rye by 25% and rap-seeds by 33%. In 2004, we gathered additional 2165 tones, including 1150 tones of wheat and 1015 tones of rye. In 2005, we gathered additional 1653 tones. Thus, the total yield increase due to the use of microwave processing has been nearly 4 000 tones. I would like to stress, that besides this remarkable grows, our products have much better ecological purity."
Mr. Valery Lozian, Agrarian farm "Roskishna" (Ukraine)
"We agreed with the supplier on a trial run in 2003 to test efficiency of the technology on our fields. Wheat occupies nearly 75% of the area on our land and its yield critically affects our business. However, 2003 was very difficult in terms of climatic conditions and sowing seeds available were of poor quality. We processed some part of the seeds and compared the result against untreated seeds. The results exceeded our expectations. Germinating capacity of wheat Souz jumped from 82% to 92%; wheat Victoria from 84% to 95%.”
Mr. Vladimir Pankiev, Agrarian farm "Alex" (Ukraine)
Tolerance for Drought/Frost
Having been processed, crop vegetation process goes faster (by 10-12 days) producing well-developed roots before dry season starts in south-east Europe steppe region. Fast vegetation also increases resistance of crop to such weather abnormalities as spring frost
Wheat Donecka-48 affected by spring frost. 1- microwave processed seeds. 2-unprocessed seeds.
Suppression of Phytopathogenicies
Experiments indicate that microwave field may suppresses phytopathogenicies. Thus, the technology may exclude, or significantly reduce application of chemical pesticides.
Ecological Purity of Product
Microwave pre-processed seeds produce harvest containing on average 1.6 times less unhealthy subspaces ( pesticides, nitrates, nuclides, etc ) in comparison to harvest grown according to traditional technologies.
Microwave seed pre-treatment technology has been approved by The Ministry of Agriculture of Ukraine and Agrarian Academy of Science (2003).
Four patents have been issued