Lans Group, the third largest tomato producer in The Netherlands, has put a great emphasis on innovation during its entire existence. The company, which cultivates tomatoes in high-tech greenhouses on 80 hectares, is also involved in a range of other activities, including plant seed production, labor management, and packaging. Having recognized the central role that energy consumption plays in their tomato-growing business, Lans has been looking for ways to reduce their energy usage.
LEDFan: a revolution in lighting
LEDFan, a toplight developed jointly by Lans Group and Food Autonomy Horticulture Lighting, is built on the concept of reducing heat loss as much as possible. This revolutionary toplight, which has been nominated for the Fruit Logistica Innovation Award 2023 and the Horticontact Innovation Award 2023, utilizes the heat generated by the LEDs and directs it downwards towards the crop, forming a warm air blanket at the top of the plants. This works as an invisible energy screen, and the warm air lowers humidity while stimulating evaporation, which in turn leads to better photosynthesis.
Considerable cost savings on lighting and heating
In addition, the heat rising from the heat pipes running on the ground is partly blocked by this blanket, and the windows and the screens at the top of the greenhouse can be kept closed as a result of better evaporation. Combined with the higher efficiency of LED luminaires, LEDFans guarantee a considerable saving in the amount of energy used and consequently lower lighting and heating costs.
'The perfect replacement of HPS'
The product, developed for tomato cultivation in high-tech greenhouses, is a perfect replacement for the traditional HPS lamp and will also help improve plant yields by providing 78% more μmol/s to the plants. “With LEDFan, you get a tailor-made cultivation recipe. LEDFan supplies both light and heat (even more than HPS). The LEDFan thus eliminates the disadvantage of the normal LED and even turns it into an advantage,” says Vincent van der Lans (Cultivation & Energy Director at Lans)
Even though LEDFan was developed for tomato cultivation, the desire to save energy and to improve evaporation, especially with a full LED installation, is not limited to tomato growers only. "We see great opportunities to have full LEDFan or hybrid LED-LEDFan installations used on other crops as well, including cucumber, roses, chrysanthemum, gerbera, etc."
Lans Group has used HPS grow lights for over two decades and LED grow lights for seven years. Seeking means to make their operations more sustainable and cost-efficient, the company installed 1,500 LEDFans on 1.5 hectares in 2021. The results were more than satisfactory: the LEDFans provided an outstanding balance between efficiency and workability. Even though Lans were maintaining a 24-hour temperature that was 1,5-2 degrees higher (to cope with a higher light level than the fruit load at that time), they used less heating compared to the HPS side of the greenhouse.
LEDFans on 27 hectares – maximized energy savings
Encouraged by these results, the company decided to install a further 12,000 LEDFans in their greenhouses, boosting the total area equipped with this product to 27 hectares. Working closely together with Food Autonomy, a company specializing in lighting solutions for the horticultural industry, the long-term plan at Lans Group is to switch entirely to LEDFans.
“Food Autonomy listens carefully to the wishes of the grower. Through our collaboration in development, together, we bring the technology of the LEDFan to the highest possible level. To enable us to maximize our energy savings (on electricity and gas), we chose LEDFan.” says Erwin van der Lans (Operational Director at Lans)
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