In the Sival Innovation competition, the gold winner in the "varietal innovation" category was a rootstock that was first developed more than 50 years ago. The Geneva G11 rootstock was bred in 1963 at the Cornell University, but only launched commercially in Europe in the last year, by licensee Dalival, a partner nursery to UK fruit tree supplier JR Breach.
"It takes a very long time to launch a new rootstock," marketing manager Fiona Davidson told Horticulture Week. "This is now a serious competitor to M9. It's tolerant of Phytophthora and fireblight, has better aphid resistance and is also less susceptible to frost.
"It will also withstand replant disease, especially in poor soils, which is a key point as soil disinfectants are on the way to being banned, in France and elsewhere, while there is generally less new land available in Europe to plant. It also gives a more open branch structure, letting more light into the middle of the tree and so benefiting the fruit."
She added: "Many of our English growers aren't aware of, or receptive to, the importance of rootstock selection, but they have replant issues. I have seen it."
Silver winner in the same category was the commercial introduction of a disease-resistant goji berry (Lycium barbarum) variety to the European market, by FPW Developpement, while bronze went to breeder Vilmorin's new curly endive variety Friseline and accompanying marketing.
Biological Botrytis control
In the "inputs" category, gold went to Biobest's Prestop biological Botrytis control for protected soft fruit in combination with its Flying Doctors beehives. These are designed to deposit small quantities of the fungicide on pollinating bumble bees as they leave the hive that they then transfer to the fruit flower.
Silver went to Certis Europe's Eradicoat, a naturally derived broad-spectrum biological control of spider mites, whitefly and aphids in protected crops that works by blocking the insects' spiracles (respiratory pores).
In "machinery and automation", the gold award went to Harvery for its AM-8 multi-level tree fruit picking platform, aimed at hedge-type growing formats in particular. Self-propelled, it enables picking up to a height of 4m in a single pass. Silver was split between Naio Technologies' Dino vegetable weeding robot (see p18) and Hortimax's Go! entry-level protected crop management system. Bronze went to Chabeauti's GreenUp vertically rotating 3D growing system for urban farming on a small footprint, and to Riviere et Fils' Eolienne portable anti-frost fan.
Suspended PVC gutter
In "production solutions", local supplier EBBJ took the gold award for its Thermogouttiere, a suspended PVC gutter for tabletop strawberry growing systems. Warm water can be piped through the gutter, extending the growing season as well as supplying irrigation and fertigation to plants. The system also boasts easy insertion and removal of plants.
Silver in the category went to stonewool supplier Saint-Gobain Cultilene for its Symphony portable pH sensor, which for the first time allows the grower to measure pH in the slab directly and quickly, while bronze went to French soft-fruit plant nursery Martaillac for its ready-to-use raspberry canes.
In "services", another local firm, Interloire, took gold for its Previmat vineyard decision-making system, while silver went to Invenio for its Biopose system, which uses drones to deposit sexual disruptors against codling moths in sweet chestnut trees, but which the company says could also have a wider range of applications. Advansee's Gleek insect trap, which combines sticky chromatic paper with automatic detection and alerting when a set threshold is exceeded, took the bronze. In all, a record 62 entries were submitted across the awards' five classes.