Researcher aims to prove LED tomato benefit

Using LEDs rather than conventional lighting can enable energy use in tomato glasshouses to be halved, according to a Wageningen University & Research (WUR) professor who will oversee a project to prove it.

LEDs: option for tomato crops - image: HW
LEDs: option for tomato crops - image: HW

Leo Marcelis has brought together eight doctoral candidates and three postdoctoral researchers at WUR and four other Dutch universities for the "LED it be 50%" project, which is funded by Technology Foundation STW and 10 partner companies including breeders.

He explained: "Switching from high-pressure sodium lighting to LEDs gives an electricity saving of 25 per cent, which will probably rise to 30 per cent in a few years."

This saving could be doubled by "smarter" positioning of the lighting, the use of different wavelengths and intensities of light tailored to the crop as well as the use of varieties adapted to such lighting, he added.

"One variety will have a different response to light to another, so the researchers will also be looking at that. The knowledge we gain from this will be of value not just to growers but also to breeders."

They will also investigate whether LED lighting increases plants' resistance to fungal diseases. Lighting encourages plants' stomata to remain open longer but this increases humidity.


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