The color of LED lamps not only helps plants grow, but can also be used to improve their taste and quality throughout the year, and may increase their nutritional value. Not only that, the fruits and vegetables planted under the LED lamp are not susceptible to the threat of climate change, so the role of led in the agricultural field is getting more and more attention.
Phillip Davis uses light to control the growth of plants, separating them from the dependence on good weather.
One of the greenhouses in the Stoxx Technology center grows tomatoes, which grow under colored LED lights. The greenhouse contains two kinds of Philips LED lights. The ceiling lamp is located above the plant to replace the standard high-pressure sodium lamp, the LED lantern is located in the ceiling, in order to maximize the crop's light utilization efficiency.
Now, with the world's population growing, the real fear is that we will eat up the food. The role of the Stoxx Technology Centre in the 21st century was to propose sustainable improvements in food production technologies to address today's challenges.
Phillip Davis said: "LED lighting is the technology that we realized five or six years ago and can really benefit the horticulture." ”
The gardening industry has a lot of interest in LEDs. Not just because of energy efficiency, but because of the potential for light to control plants.
The ability to change the color of LED lights is critical. 90% of plant genes are controlled by light. Therefore, by changing the spectrum, the growth pattern, development speed and morphology of plants can be changed. You can also change the flavor, aroma, antioxidant content, and the amount of vitamins produced by the plant.
The Stoxx Technology Center uses the natural biology of plants to do this, and does not change in any way or their genes. Instead, it uses light to increase yield, quality, and the taste of the product being nurtured.
Light can be used to ensure that the taste of fruits and vegetables is the same throughout the year, for example, to ensure that there is no difference in the taste between strawberries grown during the season and those grown in winter.
"We talked to a restaurant chef recently and said that if the taste of basil changes throughout the year, it would be very difficult to design a recipe," Davis said. ”
"We can produce basil of the same quality all year round, which means that every time we make a recipe, we need the same number of basil." ”
If the illumination environment is correct, the plant foliage can also improve the rooting of plants. Proper lighting can increase the number of rooting plants from 20% to nearly 100%, which means that labor and materials can be saved.
Thousands of commercial growers have visited the technology center to see the technology, but using LEDs on farms is not particularly prevalent.
"The application delay is mainly to convince growers that the LED is economically reasonable," Davis said. ”
"This is because LEDs are more expensive than the lighting technology now used on farms. When prices start to fall, there will be a lot of growers who want to invest in the technology. ”
One of the main reasons is that LED is constantly developing and the price of the lighting device is similar to that of two years ago. Installation costs are falling, but led prices are still difficult to attract many growers.
The advantages of the LEDs are considerable, and the spectrum is also changed, and the low temperature of the LEDs means they are close to the plant but do not damage the plants. There is no heavy metal or glass in the LEDs, and high-pressure sodium lamps sometimes break down and cause pollution.
LED spectra can be adjusted to control many aspects of plant quality, including appearance, height and flowering time.
But the main advantage of LED agriculture is that it is not affected by global warming, which means that regardless of the weather, plant cultivation can be undisturbed.
"The system we're talking about will never replace field crops," Davis said. What we need to do is to add another layer of crop production to the current system to cope with climate change and increase the safety of the food chain. These systems will always produce crops of the same quality, without relying on the weather. ”
Since joining the Stoxx Technology center five years ago, Davis has been surprised that the agricultural and lighting industries have shown great interest in his work.
He was particularly impressed by the desire of the agricultural industry to use academic science for practice, but he was uneasy about the existing obstacles.
"We need to reduce the cost of LED agriculture," he concludes. But not at the expense of quality. Prices are falling, but we need to make sure that technology is positive and economically meaningful. ”