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Sense and Nonsense PDF Print E-mail

Our protection system is a revolutionary system, that still has not revealed all its secrets.

Several Research Centres in Europe have done tests to investigate the effectiveness of our machines. Some of these Research Centres have really done a great job and were willing to invest money and time in our machines.

In the south of France, research was done in 2003. They did not make final conclusions, but said that the results were very promising and that more research should be done, since during the use of the machines, strange and inexplicable phenomenon happened.

Most of the research has been done so far in the PCF Research Centre in Gorsem (Belgium) by Ir. Tom Deckers. At first (2001), he was also very sceptical about the possibilities of the Frostbuster. But during the years, he found out that the machine performed much better than expected. When we developed the FrostGuard, he also did tests from the beginning (2005) with our first prototypes, again with very good results. Both frost protection and fruit set improvement have been tested. Tests at the PCF are done as it should be done: when a night frost is forecasted, they are out in the field, controlling temperatures, starting up the machines at the right time and afterwards, they go out in the field to count the number of flowers, fruits etc. They register temperatures with short intervals so they can really see what happens.

This, unfortunately, we cannot say this from all Research Centres. Especially in Germany, we have very bad experiences with investigations that has been done by some Research Centres. We do not want to criticise these people, however if they do not test our machines in an effective way and then use their bad results during presentations, we think we have the right to react and to explain why these results are not representative. We give here a few examples:

-     In Meckenheim (DIENSTLEISTUNGSZENTRUM  LÄNDLICHER RAUM RHEINPFALZ), they wanted to test a Frostbuster in 2003. They promised us to put data loggers in the orchard and to register temperatures. In 2003, temperatures dropped to -8 °C and there was also some wind. After the first night, they called us to say that all flowers were frozen. This was for us a big surprise because we were doing tests in Belgium during the same night, same weather conditions, same stage of flowering AND we had good results. The Frostbuster at the PCF, as well as 4 Frostbuster from farmers that were followed up by the PCF, had all good results. When we picked up the Frostbuster in Meckenheim a few weeks later, we asked for the temperature tables that they had recorded during the night. The table showed temperatures until 5h30 in the morning. When we asked for the data after 5h30, they told us that the machine had run out of gas and that they had no spare gas bottles. So they stopped working at 5h30. Everybody knows that the hours before sunrise are the coldest and the most dangerous, so they did not run the Frostbuster at the most critical moment. Of course they had bad results. Nevertheless, the news was spread out that the Frostbuster did not work and because of this, we did not sell a single machine for 7 years in that area.

-     Meckenheim 2012: they tested a FrostGuard. Also in 2012, there were a few frost nights, so they used the FrostGuard. When we got the results, we determined that the differences between the protected area (with FrostGuard) and the not protected area were not as big as they should be. So, for some reason, the results were not very good. During the discussion of these results, they finally admitted that they did not use the FrostGuard during the first night frost. During this night, 40% of the flowers were already frozen… And the story gets even better: during the ‘Apfeltag (Apple day)’ on the 15th of August 2012, they not only gave a presentation of these results to an audience of 200 fruit growers, but they also showed some pictures that a lady from the university of Bonn had made with an infrared camera. These pictures were made during the day, at positive temperatures. Furthermore, our protection systems is not based on raising the temperature of the air but on energy input into the flowers bu phase change, something that cannot be measured by an infrared camera. Nevertheless, based on the pictures she took, not knowing how our machines work, and without any consultation, this lady told the audience that 4 FrostGuards are needed to protect 1 hectare. In fact, we need more or less 1 machine per hectare. Based on this statement, one of our customers cancelled his order.

-     But in Germany, they like it a lot to play with infrared cameras. So does our best friend, Herr Doktor Dirk Köpcke from the “Landwirtschaftskammer Niedersachsen”. Mr. Köpcke is regularly asked to give presentations about frost protection. In his area, 90% is protected with water because they are close to the river Elbe and there is plenty of water. So, for him, there is only one good protection system: water. During his presentation, he also uses an infrared camera, entertaining the audience with some “nice pictures” and showing the possibilities of the camera. And if your protection system is based on raising the temperature, this kind of camera can be useful to register the temperature differences. So far so good. But after he has explained “his” protection systems, he starts talking about alternative protection systems, under which our Frostbuster and FrostGuard. And based upon his “research”, he concludes that they do not work properly. Let us take a look at his "research" which exists of two cases:

  1. FrostGuard: we sold some FrostGuards to a company in Germany for the protection of blueberries. Because the plants are like hedges, it is not possible to work with a machine with the outlet below. Since the plants are very high (2m) and we had to blow on top of the plants, protection is limited, until approx. -3 °C (where we normally give protection until -5 or -6 °C). This is also what we told Mr. Metz who is responsible for the machines. Mr. Köpcke went over to see the results after a frost with temperatures of -8 °C and a very low humidity. Of course, the results were not good, they couldn’t have been good. His decision: it does not work. That weather conditons were extreme is not important. Mr. Metz was presented on one of this presentations and could not believe his ears when he heard Mr. Köpcke making such bad publicity. In these conditions, it was impossible to have good results. Nice to know: a neigbour of Mr. Metz used water and had also a total loss.
  2. Frostbuster: the same year, he checked the results at a farm that used a Frostbuster. Also there, the results were, according to Mr. Köpcke, not good. When we asked Mr. Köpcke if the machine was used according to our recommendations, he did not know. When we asked him for temperatures and humidity, he could not tell. He even compared the protected orchard with an orchard that had different kind of trees!  Mr. Köpcke does not even know how our machines have to be used, when they have to be started up. And he is not there himself during the night. Nevertheless, he claims that the machine was used properly. Why then is it that other customers in the same area had good results and even bought extra machines, because of these results? Mr. Köpcke makes conclusions, based on inferior research, based on one experience during extreme weather conditions, based on statements of an inexperienced user. (Maybe they started up the machine too late, maybe they lost too much time changing the gas bottles, maybe the humiditiy was very low... We don't know but he doesn’t either). To compare mr. Köpcke's "research" to the real research that was done in 2003 in Belgium by Mr. Tom Deckers: he followed up 5 machines, all the users had the machine at least for the second year, and the comparison between protected and not protected orchards was done between orchards of the same owners, the same kind of trees, the same age of trees, situated close to each other and on the same altitude, treated the same way (pruning, fertilizing). We invite you to take a look at these results. (See Products/Frostbuster/Results)
  3. And we can give another fine example of his misleading presentations: pictures of burned leaves and flowers. When we use the Frostbuster, it’s possible that some leaves and flowers ‘seem’ to be burned. This occurs when the driver always uses the same row to drive through. Something that we strongly advise not to do. However, if someone does, some leaves and flowers seem to be slightly burned. This is however a pure ‘optical’ problem and after a few weeks the leaves become ‘normal’ again. And what’s more important: all flowers will change into good fruits. But Mr. Köpcke likes to show a few pictures, telling the audience that where the Frostbuster passes, a lot of flowers and leaves are burned. He did not inform whether this could have negative results, he did not check himself after a few weeks to see what happened. Oh no, that’s not his cup to tea. He just shows the pictures and leaves the audience again with a bad feeling about our machines. The fact that it hasn’t any negative effect on flowers, leaves and trees is not important for him. (When we sell a machine, we even tell our customers that they might expect this phenomenon so they know what they can expect and they know that they don’t have to worry about it.)

It’s obvious that for some reason, Mr. Köpcke does not like our machines. Probably because he cannot understand why it works. Instead of trying to investigate why and how it works – more than 500 satisfied customers and more than 2000 machines sold prove that it works – he just tells on presentations that our machines “might work in some cases as long as it’s not too cold”.

Water becomes more and more precious and Europe wants to restrain the use of water for agriculture use in the future. When a new technology comes on the market, a technology that works very well and does not need water with all its disadvantages, people like Mr. Köpcke should be happy for this new opportunity and should do some “real research”. He seems to forget that worldwide about 90% of the plantations lack sufficient water or consists of crops which cannot cope with the abundant use of water. The negative effects of frost protection by sprinkler-systems are becoming clearer and express themselves in diseases of crops or bad fruit setting.

Our technician and "man in the field", Mr. Marc Polleunis, is working on "frost problems" for 20 years, and this "day and night", looking for solutions for the fruit growers. What he doesn't deserve is to be criticized by people like Mr. Köpcke, based on very dubious “research” that probably took "a few hours". Mr. Köpcke is paid to give useful information to fruit growers. Instead of that, due to his statements, fruit growers lose a lot of money because they believe his idiocy and dare not to invest in our new technology that can save their crops. Doing bad research is one thing, using the results of this kind of research for presentations and publications is really criminal and immoral.

One more thing: one of the most important advantages of the Frostbuster and FrostGuard is that they need only a fraction of the energy that other systems need.  During irrigation, the input of energy in the orchard is an equivalent of 230 bottles of propane gas per hour per hectare. We only need 1 bottle of propane gas per hour per hectare. This fact resulted in Mr. Köpcke’s incredible statement: “The biggest disadvantage of your system is the low input of energy.” If this is the mentality and the kind of conclusions made by people that are supposed to inform and instruct the German fruit growers, we feel sorry for them.

We hope you can understand that we are not very excited by the way that "research" is done by some people.