AgTech specialist Light Science Technologies (LST) is conducting a tomato trial with Crop Health and Protection (CHAP) to test low power technology to reduce energy costs while growing vine crops.
Running for six months, the project has started trialing three different light combinations to see which produces the most yield for the least energy. With the aim of championing crop production using technology, the project is being carried out in partnership with CHAP at the Stockbridge Technology Centre (STC) in their advanced glasshouse facility in Selby, North Yorkshire.
As import costs soar due to rising fuel and energy costs, there is a consensus that growing more local produce and using less energy can be achieved through more productive light positioning.
The trial is harnessing LST’s nurturGROW interlight, the energy efficient grow light which runs on less power as it is closer to the crop, targeting the light and specifically working within the canopy. By positioning nearer the vine, more PPFD is used, creating less waste and energy. Further energy is saved as the luminaire turns off when not needed.
Focusing on energy expenditure per kilogram of fruit, the output will determine which lighting configuration uses the least energy while finding the optimum balance between energy and yield.
Designed to create bespoke light recipes for growers to provide optimum crop yield, nurturGROW also reduces light wastage with its recyclable and reusable design, making it more sustainable.
Andy Williams, Marketing Manager at LST, said: “What we’re aiming to do is find that sweet spot by striking the right balance between quality and energy usage. The collaboration with CHAP enables us to work with leading agronomists and experienced growers to determine two key factors: whether the UK can increase its food security by growing more locally and do so in an energy efficient manner at a time when energy costs are rising to record levels.”
Lucy Plowman, Technical Liaison Officer at CHAP, said: "We are seeing some significant developments in growth in the primary stages of the trial as it is already revealing the lighting’s potential for increasing tomato production and quality. We look forward to gathering the results after its conclusion.”
The UK imports over £11 billion worth of fruit and vegetables per year, equating to 500,000 tons of fruit, with only 100,000 tonnes of that which is homegrown. Growers are planning to increase production over the next decade and hope to see half of the tomatoes eaten in Britain grown locally by 2030. Energy efficient technology can play a prominent role in making this happen and reduce the reliance on imports long term.