Research projects for environment-friendly wood protection

«We are delighted to have found a biological and above all a sustainable solution to our wood pole problem with Avengelus BASIC from MycoSolutions,” says Mark Neuhaus, Head of Technical Management at Swisscom. «We expect cost savings of at least CHF 14 million per year over the next 15-35 years thanks to this new solution.»

Infestation of wood poles by wood decay, copper-resistant fungi

Even in the age of internet telephony: still more than a million wood poles exist in Switzerland, of which half a million belong to Swisscom. They are affected by environmental influences, including the infestation of wood decay fungi.

Although the poles are impregnated with biocides such as copper, many fungi are now resistant to copper and convert copper into oxalic acid, which destroys the wood. In addition, the registration of impregnating materials such as chromium and boron will expire in the EU and Switzerland from 2019 onwards. Wood, tree and fungus researcher Prof. Dr. Francis Schwarze from Empa has found an antagonist against these wood decay fungi: Trichoderma harzianum. Special strains of Trichoderma harzianum keep the pathogen in control as antagonists. Furthermore, the natural wood protection by the biological active substance is environment-friendly.

As part of a joint research programme with MycoSolutions, Swisscom has been using the Avengelus BASIC granules with Trichoderma harzianum as a preventive measure for every new pole that is set up or replaced since 2017. The granules are also applied proactively in the soil of affected masts. Medium- and long-term successes can only be tracked over time. However, our laboratory tests have shown that the wood protection agent Avengelus BASIC is superior to other wood protection over a period of nine months. Wood treated with Trichoderma harzianum showed no damage even nine months after infection with pathogens, compared to the others treated with conventional alternatives. Thus, the service span of wood poles can be prolonged significantly thanks to biological control.

Further scientific evidence:

Field test Swisscom

Film about the use of Avengelus BASIC on Swisscom wood poles

Other wood protection research projects