Bringing light to the fields: LED lights may help boost crop production 

Published August 24, 2021, 10:30 AM

by Vina Medenilla

Daan Roosegaarde, a Dutch artist, and some plant biologists recently created a so-called “light-recipe” for crops that can help them grow and maximize their productivity. 

During the day, a 20,000 sqm farmland that grows leeks is a typical agricultural landscape, but when the evening comes, the field of leeks turns blue and red as they are installed with multi-colored LED lights. 

A massive field of leeks is installed with light recipes. (Photo from Studio Roosegaarde’s website.)

These lights aren’t just for aesthetics because these allow the vegetables to grow better by extending the hours of their light exposure, even after the sun has set. 

Red and blue ultraviolet (UV) lights have been employed in greenhouses, vertical gardens, and other indoor growing spaces, but this new light recipe can effectively aid outdoor crops, too. Plus, it can decrease the use of pesticides by up to 50 percent. 

According to Jason Wargent, a plant photobiologist, the use of specific UV types on seeds and seedlings prompts internal mechanisms to increase their output in later stages and build stronger resistance from pests and diseases. 

Wargent added that UV targets the plant’s interior, which is why it can cause positive changes to plants in a way that no other light can do.

With the rising pressure and threats to food security, he suggests that these light recipes can be an alternative to revolutionize agriculture. It also does not require pricey and harmful chemicals. 

The lights shine horizontally across the field for a short period every evening. (Photo from Studio Roosegaarde’s website.)

Light recipes are only used for a short period in the evening so they won’t affect nocturnal wildlife. 

Field trials are being conducted in the US to assess its effectiveness on other crops.

Roosegaarde said that the creation of light recipes that suit the local production of different countries is possible. 

While Roosegaarde is well aware that the light recipes alone can’t solve hunger and food insecurity, he still aspires for the world to see these lights as a useful tool in combating the aforementioned issues. 

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