It is well known that light is a crucial factor in the lifecycle of plants. The light quality and quantity, as well as the photoperiod, have significant effects on plant growth and development. Manipulation of light for plant cultivation is an important issue plant scientists study in controlled environment agriculture (CEA), where several different artificial lighting conditions are commonly used in plant factories, growth chambers, and greenhouses. LED-based horticultural lighting systems are increasingly utilized for better control over the intensity and spectral power distribution (SPD) in CEA for optimal plant production.
As CEA efforts strive to address the needs and challenges of indoor and future farming, we must also thoroughly and precisely understand the plants. Without fully exploring the biological effects on the plants themselves under different lighting conditions, however, it is difficult to understand whether plant development is truly optimized for quality and growth rate. The plant science team at the Lighting Enabled Systems & Applications (LESA) Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (where I have been conducting plant lighting experiments as a visiting scholar) is using advanced horticulture lighting systems and research methods to better understand the physiological responses to specific wavelengths and duration of light exposure on crops commonly grown indoors, such as lettuce and microgreens — the same plants frequently grown for commercial production.