What do you get when you mix some green and white plant science with Spartan sustainability and teamwork? The answer, it turns out, is pink greenhouses.
Working with the university’s Infrastructure Planning and Facilities, the MSU Plant Science Research Greenhouse Facility installed colored LEDs inside two of its greenhouse ranges to cut energy consumption, save money and power research that’s helping Michigan’s farms and farmers.
“This project combines this special group of people to bring new technology on campus,” said Erik Runkle, a professor in the Department of Horticulture and an MSU Extension specialist. “With IPF, we’re bringing a cost and energy savings to campus along with benefits to science as well.”
Runkle has been studying LEDs in plant-growing operations since 2010. Back then, though, no greenhouse would have used the lights. The technology was too primitive and inefficient for the price, he said. But that’s changing now.
“I wouldn’t say the adoption is widespread yet, but it’s gained traction and implementation is increasing,” Runkle said.
Light-emitting diodes use less energy than conventional bulbs. Some emit specific colors while others emit white light. Red fixtures are the most efficient at converting electricity into the light plants use for photosynthesis, Runkle said. Plants also need a gentle splash of blue light, which is provided by a smaller number of white LEDs. The red and white mixture create the greenhouses’ pink glow.