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Esther van Echtelt, Philips Horticulture:

"“Finding the ultimate lighting solution is like going on a journey of discovery"

The plant specialists at Philips Horticulture are the best discussion partners a grower could wish for when it comes to the application of LED lighting for crop cultivation under artificial light. In each newsletter one of them talks about developments and experiences in the field. This time it is the turn of Esther Hogeveen-van Echtelt , who is talking about interlighting and top lighting for tomatoes.

“Finding the ultimate lighting solution is like going on a journey of discovery. We have been on this journey with our partners and growers for many years now and together we have covered quite some ground. Every now and then it is good to stop and take stock of how far you have come. That’s why we attended the British Tomato Growers Conference in October to listen, learn and share. At this conference a respected and experienced grower talked about his visit to Jami VOF in Bergschenhoek (NL), a project on a commercial scale where last winter they used LED interlighting in combination with SON-T over three hectares for the first time. He told how he had never before seen such a wonderful crop as he saw in Bergschenhoek. It is at times like this when I realize once more that we are pioneers who are really pushing the boundaries with our growers and other partners.

However, that image of a pioneer trying to find her way in the wilderness ‒ romantic as it is ‒ is now outdated. We are hearing more and more often that growers think LED interlighting has already proved its value with tomatoes. There is no longer any question that it works, it is just a matter of finding the best way to apply it in their specific nursery. And however interesting and exciting a journey of discovery might be, the purpose of it is, of course, to show the growers how much proven added value the interlighting delivers so that we can move on from this discussion and focus all our attention on finding the best way to apply the lighting in their specific circumstances. And that is the wonderful thing: for each nursery and each new tomato variety we can fine-tune the recipe even further. Some growers want heavier fruit, others want more vines and then there are others who have different requirements again. We can control all of this using light and by creating the right conditions at the right moment in terms of climate, food and plant care.

And that is what makes my job so interesting and the meetings with growers so exciting. There is always more we can learn from one another and more we can do to help each other. That's why I am looking forward to the lighting season that is about to start again. It will be a new journey of discovery with projects and pilots to be started up, both in the Netherlands and in other countries. The development of the recipe based on LED interlighting and LED top lighting for tomatoes got off to a flying start last year. It has opened up possibilities in situations where electricity prices are relatively high or in situations where SON-T cannot be used because the greenhouses are too low and the heat generated by traditional toplighting creates a problem. Over the coming year we are going to develop this further and I expect we will come up with some great results. I am looking forward to working together with the team at Philips Horticulture, our Horti partners and the growers to create perfect, tailor-made conditions for our growers and their crops.”

For more information:
Philips Horticultural Lighting, the Netherlands
Esther van Echtelt

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