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Freshman students research light recipes for kale

Kale. Is there a more Dutch product than that in the vegetable aisle? Maybe it is due to the ever-changing seasons us Dutch people love so much. Because kale is a typical winter vegetable, nice on a cold winter's night. Growers are also happy with kale, because it is a crop that grows wonderfully in our sea climate. It also is a good crop to experiment with in climate chambers, which is what 4 freshman students studying Applied Biology at the HAS College in Venlo did before the summer with a project called Bio-experience. They did this at BrightBox, a state of the art research and training facility for closed multilayer horticulture.

Regular versus exotic
The students, however, didn’t choose kale because it is a regular crop. They chose it because it is exotic. Wait what? “For us Dutch people kale is indeed normal”, the students Lars Smolenaars, Teun Kiggen, Tom Bovee and Frens Steegh tell us. “But in many other countries, this is not the case. They see it as an exotic vegetable and the demand has risen a lot over the last few years. But as easy as it is to grow the crop in the Netherlands, that’s how hard it is to grow it in other countries. That’s why it is interesting to research how kale grows in the climate chamber under LED lights.”

Reddened light
The students researched different types of kale: red kale, bush kale and cutting kale. “We experiment with 4 types of LED combinations”, the students explain, “and grew all three types of kale under them to discover what the best growing recipe is. We also compared the harvest with the ‘regular’ harvest from the land.” And as it turned out, the LED combination with reddened light jumped out.”

Research skills
Besides the content of the research the students also learned a lot about how to set up a research project, how to arrive at the right conclusions and how to present the results in a correct way. “The Bio-experience is a project that lasts half a year and is a first introduction to doing research”, says Jasper den Besten. He is the lecturer for New Growing Systems and guided the students during their research. “In the second year they will be doing a yearlong project in which they will conduct meaningful research for a company or organization and the Bio-experience is a great way to prepare for this. In the fourth year of their studies they will have grown a lot in their researching skills. It is wonderful to see them develop into full-fledged researchers over the years.”


Source: HAS hogeschool

Click here for more information about the BrightBox

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