18Apr LEDs are Increasing Yields in a Variety of Plants
The colour of LED light can be used not only to assist the growth of plants but it can also be used to improve their year-round taste and quality, and potentially increase their nutritional value. Growing fruits and vegetables under LED light also makes them less vulnerable to the threats of climate change.
Lux spoke to Doctor Phillip Davis, business manager at Stockbridge Technology Centre in Yorkshire to find out what more can be done to speed up the LED revolution in farming.
‘The ability to change the colour of LED light is crucial. 90 per cent of plant genes are regulated by light. So, by changing the light spectrum, it is possible to change how a plant grows, how fast it develops and its morphology. It is also possible to change the flavour, the aroma, the antioxidant content and, potentially, the amount of vitamins produced by a plant.
STC uses a plant’s natural biology to do this and does not alter or play with their genetic makeup in any way. Instead, it uses light to improve the yields, quality, as well as the taste of the product being cultivated.
Light can be used to ensure that the taste of fruit and vegetables is consistent throughout the year, for example, ensuring there are no differences in taste between a strawberry grown in season and one grown in winter.’
If the light environment is right, it is also possible to improve the rooting of plants when vegetative cuttings are taken. The right lighting can improve the strike rate of cuttings (i.e the number of plants taking root) from 20 per cent to nearly 100 per cent, meaning savings on labour and materials can be made.
The use of LEDs in horticulture is proving itself useful and interest in this area is understandably growing. New research conducted by LumiGrow, who develop LED technology for use on farms, further supports the use of LEDs in farming.
Their findings noted an increase in flowering observed in cucumber plants, tomato plants and cannabis plants. The research also found a reduction in the spread of powdery mildew, which is a common problem.
The research found that 32 days after they were planted and nourished under LED light, the tomato plants showed a 45 percent increase in height and a 28 percent increase in weight and improvements in weight, morphology, flowering, root development, and flavour were also spotted.
Servizi Ambientali Bassa Reggiana (CEO of S.A.BA.R), based in the province of Reggio, which produces Italian basil for salad, pasta and other dishes, switched the greenhouse high pressure sodium lamps for LEDs with astounding results.
Artificial lighting is often used for many hours a day to avoid typical basil illnesses with red, hyper red and blue LED lighting used in different proportions in the greenhouse, a pattern that has been found to increase basil growth times.
The new system designed by Osram and Ambra Elettronica, using Oslon LED technology reduced power consumption by 56 percent and dodged sending 30 tons of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. The basil firm also reduced harvest times by five days and increased the crop production.
‘We were worried about proliferation problems because the peronospara fungus was previously eradicated by the heat generated by the HPS lighting, but we didn’t experience anything,’ commented Marco Boselli who is the CEO of S.A.BA.R.
‘We could also observe a better and faster growth of our basil due to the lower percentage of blue light, which is five percent with the LED solution compared to 24 per cent with our former HPS solution.’
All these studies show that LEDs are the future of horticulture, with Sebastian Lyschic, global project manager at LED Light for You at Osram Opto commenting ‘Durable, energy efficient and long lasting; LED technology is becoming more and more popular and will, one day, replace standard horticultural lighting.’