STC will be holding two open days to update growers with the results of the ongoing work, and relating this to the potential for edible and ornamental production. There will be tours of both the indoor LED facility as well as the LED glasshouse trials. They are 30 November 2016 - What does the future hold for the use of LEDs in protected edible plant production? The other date is 1 December 2016 - What does the future hold for the use of LEDs in ornamental plant production?
AHDB horticulture has played a big role in the LED work at STC, both by funding the five-year fellowship (CP 085) and through a three-year LED project (CP 125). See: https://horticulture.ahdb.org.
Dr Phillip Davis, Applied Photo-biologist, AHDB Horticulture Research Fellow, said: "The number of growers exploring the use of LEDs is increasing at a considerable rate in the UK at the moment and several high profile installations have been made. LEDs are currently being used in edibles, ornamentals and soft fruit sectors. Many growers are quietly investing in LED lighting so it can sometimes appear like LEDs are less widely used than they are."
The benefits of LED lighting can produce energy savings and spectral manipulation. Plant quality is better under LED and they may remove the need for plant growth regulators.
The events have been designed to provide demonstrations of how LED light influences plant growth and development. The events will be a combination of short presentations and tours of the facilities providing the opportunity for interactive discussions and enable growers to learn about lighting and ask questions that are relevant to their business.
Davis added: ‘I am confident that LEDs form a large part of the future of the horticulture industry from both an energy perspective but perhaps more importantly from the perspective of optimising crop production. The work we are currently performing at STC is creating the basic knowledge that is required to make the best use of lights and identify sectors of the industry that can benefit from lighting technology. To continue developing our knowledge and realise the gains that LED lighting can provide I would hope to continue my work but also to work more closely with growers investigating lighting systems. I would encourage growers considering LED lighting or those wishing to make the best use of existing lighting systems to contact me.’
He plans on expanding the current lighting research to a wider range of applications from examining natural light spectra and understanding the benefits of novel glass and plastic cladding materials.
In Davis's fellowship position he has been learning about the industry (grower needs and business economics) which is helping to provide relevant applied research projects. A key part of his role includes knowledge exchange aimed at educating growers in the potential benefits of LED lighting.
STC have funded all the LED infrastructure need to perform lighting research (www.LED4CROPS.co.uk) in various glasshouse and enclosed production systems.
They have also run the CP 125 LED research project examining plant light responses for the PE, PO and HNS, crop sectors.