Sweden: Oat and barley grown in a controlled environment with LED

Heliospectra, which operates in intelligent lighting technology for crop cultivation and plant research, has together with Gothenburg University and biotech companies CropTailor and OlsAro, successfully grown cereals (oat and barley) in a controlled environment under sole source LED lighting. The report entitled “Growth and development of cereals in a controlled environment with sole source LED lighting” demonstrate the potential to cultivate staple foods in a closed environment anywhere in the world.

The aim of the study was to see how cereals grow under different light conditions, with emphasis on the effects of far red light has on the crops development and flowering. The study was conducted at the University of Gothenburg, in a temperature-controlled growth cabinet. Heliospectra adjustable LED lighting system the LX60 Series was used as the light source. The crops were grown under two different LED light treatments, and their growth and development was monitored during the growth cycle. Growth parameters evaluated during the study were: plant structure, developing time, flowering time, grain quality and yield.

Both oat and barley are two crops, many don’t believe can flower in an enclosed environment with LED grow lights as sole source. Given the importance of these crops, Heliospectra wanted to demonstrate that this is not the case, and at the same time study the spectrums impact on the crop’s development. The results show that both crops flower and grow well under the right lighting conditions. Even ongoing studies on wheat look promising, says Daniel Bånkestad, research and development engineer at Heliospectra AB.

Results of oat and barley grown under the Heliospectra LX601C light spectrum, far red included

The results show that both the oat and barley grow and flower under the lighting conditions studied, but far red light seems to be beneficial, especially for oat. The results we received in the oat unit where far red was included - such as the number of seeds per panicle and seeds per mini ear - is remarkably good, and highlight the potential of this technology, for example, for seed production in a controlled environment, says Johanna Lethin at Gothenburg University.

According to the UN, the world population will reach 9.1 billion by 2050, and food production will have to increase by 70% by this time. With this comes the challenge to produce more food for more people, and a more urbanized population, without exploiting more resources such as land and water.

The results of this study are encouraging and demonstrate the potential of modern LED lighting. The ability to cultivate staple foods such as oat, barley and wheat efficiently in a controlled environment anywhere in the world not only minimizes the use of water but also gives farmers the opportunity to avoid growing in contaminated soil and water, says Staffan Hillberg, CEO Heliospectra.

Read the full trial report here.

For more information 
Heliospectra AB

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