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Optimizing yield, quality, and power consumption with full spectrum LED lights in greenhouse production systems

Research Theme
Agriculture, Food and Environment
Lead Researcher
Dr. Nick Savidov
Duration of Project
Results Driven Agriculture Research (RDAR)
Current Prairie Horticulture, Tamura Imports
Areas of Expertise
Project Description
Supplemental light is a critical factor in greenhouse crop productivity, especially during winter in the northern hemisphere when Daily Light Integral (DLI) is low. Despite the obvious need for supplemental light, only a relatively small fraction of the greenhouse operators in North America use supplemental light due to the high capital investment and significant operational cost (Torres, 2009; Dorais & Gosselin, 2022). However, growing vegetables in winter using supplemental lights is on the rise in Alberta. While the area under lights for the winter production of cucumbers and tomatoes was around 30 acres in 2017 (Mirza, 2017), recently built greenhouses in Central and Southern Alberta have raised that estimate to over 100 acres in 2022. Greenhouse growers who use supplemental lighting tend to employ High-Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps, such as High-Pressure Sodium (HPS), which are expensive to operate and maintain. Horticultural LED lights have been considered as an alternative to HID lights due to their capacity to produce monochromatic light and their better longevity, less maintenance, and higher power efficiency and food safety. Horticultural LEDs however are considerably more expensive when compared to common industrial lights such as High Bay LEDs and as such are cost prohibitive for most commercial greenhouse growers in Alberta and Canada as a whole. This project will investigate the impact of replacing conventional HID lights with less expensive full spectrum High Bay LED lights, which have already replaced HID lights in most other industrial applications. Through this project, we will identify best practices for supplemental lighting in the production of three of the most popular greenhouse-grown crops in Canada: cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers. Measures of power consumption, yielf, quality, and ROI will be accompanied by data from a sophisticated crop electrophysiology system to track plant stress.