Horti Fair: LED developers lead moves for improved sustainability

Manufacturers of LED (light-emitting diode) lighting used the sustainability theme of last week's Horti Fair show, in Amsterdam, to put the case for LEDs in place of conventional assimilation lighting.

Lemnis Lighting, one of 10 manufacturers and suppliers at the show, has already installed LED lighting to cover 15,000sq m of glasshouse production.

Director of greenhouse lighting Jeroen van Velzen said: "We have many satisified customers. Now the focus is on efficiency."

Lemnis claims to have engineered the most efficient LED lighting yet and said it has boosted harvests by 1.6 to 1.7 times per unit of light. "We hope for two times higher this year," said van Velzen.

"You can operate the glasshouse with half the electricity. It's an easy business case to make. The purchase price is around 2.5 times higher because it's still new, but you quickly earn that back."

But Dutch Horticulture Production Board energy programme manager Aat Dijkshoorn was less enthusiastic. "We expect big steps forward in LED lighting in the future, but we must take time to do the necessary research," he said.

Dutch-based electronics giant Philips launched four LED products at Horti Fair. But company plant physiologist Esther van Echtelt said there would be no instant switch-over. "They will be in use more," she said. "But growers aren't investing in complete glasshouses, so you have to do it step by step and every grower is different."

The company has had some success combining LEDs with high-pressure sodium lighting to give a 15 per cent increase in tomato production, said van Echtelt. "But it's not just about efficiency, it's also about growing a better crop."

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