Interpretation and evaluation of electrical lighting in plant factories

In plant factories, light is fully controllable for crop production but involves a cost. For efficient lighting, light use efficiency (LUE) should be considered as part of light environment design.
The objectives of a new study were to evaluate and interpret the light interception, photosynthetic rate, and LUE of lettuces under electrical lights using ray-tracing simulation. The crop architecture model was constructed by 3D scanning, and ray-tracing simulation was used to interpret light interception and photosynthesis. For evaluation of simulation reliability, measured light intensities and photosynthetic rates in a growth chamber were compared with those obtained by simulation at different planting densities.
Under several scenarios modeling various factors affecting light environments, changes in light interception and LUE were interpreted. The light intensities and photosynthetic rates obtained by simulation showed good agreement with the measured values, with R2 > 0.86. With decreasing planting density, the light interception of the central plant increased by approximately 18.7%, but that of neighboring plants decreased by approximately 5.5%. Under the various scenarios, shorter lighting distances induced more heterogenetic light distribution on plants and caused lower light interception. Under a homogenous light distribution, the light intensity was optimal at approximately 360 μmol m−2 s−1 with an LUE of 6.5 g MJ−1.
The results of this study can provide conceptual insights into the design of light environments in plant factories.

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