STC

LED4Crops – The High Wire Facility

In the summer of 2014 following collaboration with Stockbridge Technology Centre, CambridgeHOK, Philips, Cornerways Nursery and the Tomato Growers Association a new research facility came to light to further investigation into the use of LED lighting in tomatoes. Following on from the LED4CROPS facility looking at ‘closed room vertical growing’ STC was again decided to be the location for the next LED research facility. CambridgeHOK was selected to create the facility and the support from Philips on lighting assisted the project coming to life in very short period.

The continuing interest and development in LED lighting whilst proving very interesting as a future tool in the horticultural armoury clear definitive information to underpin the benefits is not readily available for the Grower. It was therefore decided to set up a 4 compartment trial to evaluate LED lighting solutions and compare directly to the standard Sodium lighting solution.

The glasshouse selected had 4 equally sized compartments but was felt to be too low in height to be representative of a commercial nursery so the first step was to lift the glasshouse by 1m !!! One of the compartments also had its roof removed and replaced with ‘diffused’ glass to add another comparison to be made possible as interest grows in the use of this new glass technology.

Four trials were then set up as follows:-

  • Control – 220umol Sodium toplighting only using 600w lamps.
  • Sodium toplight @ 110umol and 110umol LED Interlighting.
  • LED Toplighting @ 110umol and 110umol LED Interlighting.
  • LED Toplighting @ 110umol and 110umol LED Interlighting + diffused glass.

The crop was planted in October with first production starting in early December. The results of the trial are available from Stockbridge Technology Centre but the project has demonstrated the tangible benefits and results that the use of LED lighting can deliver. It is now planned to continue the trials for a second year with more specific focus on key comparative measurements.

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