The inventor of BoosterTM lighting method, Managing director of Netled Oy Mr. Niko Kivioja, describes the first steps of the innovation: ”The idea was born, when we were searching for the most efficient way to bring LED technology into hybrid lighting. At first we looked at the light quality mostly used in greenhouse LED fixtures today and the combination of that together with HPS light. A question arose, why should we add those wavelengths with LED light, abundant already in HPS light? If we are looking to achieve higher quality of the crops with efficient lighting, we should improve the light quality of HPS light with the help of LED lights. This can be done with less massive lighting equipment with possibility to adjust the light quality as a bonus. We decided to file for a patent and start research work right away.”
Netled has been researching the new lighting method together with partners for a year now. Also, from the beginning of the year 2014 there has been a search for commercial greenhouses to introduce the method and technology in production to gain practical experience and results with different plants in real greenhouse environment. During these pilot studies BoosterTM technology has already been sold to five different greenhouses in Finland and in UK.
"The effectiveness of Netled Booster lighting method is based on the quality of light, produced by specific LED lights. It affects phototropism, meaning the way plants turn towards light. This helps the light to better penetrate to the photosynthetic surface of taller foliage and gives a significant boost to the effectiveness of HPS light, as well. In addition, this specific light quality contributes to stomatal function, leading to better metabolism of the plants. Metabolism is a vitally important part of photosynthesis, so any improvements there increase the effectiveness of lighting as such. Furthermore, we have discovered that blue light stimulates nitrate reductase in cell tissue, which leads to lower nitrate levels in fruits and leaves.” Mr. Arsi Kujala, Specialist in botanical research, Netled Oy
The first research work was done on lettuce and currently Netled studies this technology on herbs. Growing experiments on cucumber crops started this spring and the early results look very promising. Next winter season the pilot studies will extend to include tomato as well. Netled is currently looking for potential greenhouses to partner with in pilot experiments on tomato.
"The Booster luminaires look really impressive. The plants enjoy Booster enhanced HPS light and become more compact in form. This makes them easier to handle during packing and reduces the risk of cell tissue damages. More compact lettuce endures longer storage and shelf life than taller lettuce coming from pure HPS light. What comes to quantities, Booster lighted greenhouse produces lettuce at the same pace as the neighbouring greenhouse, where lighting power with traditional HPS lights is 30 % higher." Mr. Sakari Tamsi, Managing director, Matti Tamsi Oy
Effects of the lighting method on plantsThe method was first researched on lettuce, because greenhouses producing leafy greens have a clear need to improve crop quality during mid-winter. The lighting method and technology were tested both on seedling phase alone and throughout the growth cycle. Results showed significant improvements in plant quality:
- more efficient nitrate reductase in plants leading to lower nitrate levels
- control over stretching, protection against damages leading to improved shop quality
- seedling phase control over stretching of cotyledon preventing damages during planting
- improved extraction of calcium from nutrient solution, enhancing protection from internal tipburn and other defects caused by changes in growth environment
- stronger root system leading to higher resistance against root diseases
- efficient operating time of HPS bulbs in horticulture is doubled
- instead of using expensive horticultural bulbs in HPS luminaires, it is possible to use cheaper and more efficient street lighting bulbs
- adjusting the light quality
Netled BoosterTM will be released in June at GreenTech Amsterdam, stand number 11.620, welcome! Information about enhancing HPS lighting with LED technology available during Sessions at Energy Pavilion (Hall 11) on Tue 10 June at 14:00 and on Wed 11 June at 12:30.