“Each country, crop and culture is different, but the entire horticulture community realizes how important it is to develop more sustainable growing practices. That’s why we believe it is so important to foster the exchange of information between commercial growers, breeders, universities, research institutes and technology manufacturers,” says Udo van Slooten, manager of Philips Horticulture LED lighting. “By listening to the experiences and requirements of commercial growers and research institutes, we all gain a deeper understanding of how we can use LED lighting to improve the horticulture industry.”
A highlight of the event was the demonstration at Sandylands Nurseries, one of the nurseries owned by R&L Holt in Evesham, United Kingdom, a newly rebuilt hydroponic commercial facility which grows premium tomatoes for supermarkets on an area of 8,300 m2. Roly Holt at Sandylands says, “One of the advantages with the Philips LED interlighting is that we can hang the lights within the canopy, and we can also target that part of the canopy. So what we’re finding is that we can leave leaf on the plant longer because it’s still working, it’s still photosynthesizing, so it’s still productive.” With its first short season from February till September, and using the lights for several hours a day, the crop was producing 25% more than a normal greenhouse without lights and diffuse glass. Now the first season of winter production using full light installation (HPS + LED interlighting) is exceeding the expectations so far for Piccolo and Elegance.
Stockbridge Technology Center brought the participants up-to-date on the latest scientific results from research trials being carried out with Philips GreenPower LED interlighting, LED toplighting and HPS lighting. Sunstream tomatoes grown in the compartments with only LED lighting seemed to be preferred in recent tasting trials. STC sees many opportunities to optimize crop production using LED lighting.
The group visited Dutch tomato grower Wim Peters, Vivaio in Someren, who has now equipped his second greenhouse with LED lighting for the production of Tasty Tom in the winter season, after his positive experiences in both volume and quality after one year of growing with a hybrid installation for production of his plum tomatoes. The growers present were impressed by the crop performance, and by the learnings and experiences that were shared by Wim and his team.
Growers at the host nurseries picked up new tips as well. As Danny van den Berg, grower at Wim Peters’ Vivaio nursery says, “This event gave me a huge load of information and fresh new ideas that will help me optimize every part of the growing process in my daily practice.”
At the GreenQ Improvement Centre, a horticulture research facility in Bleiswijk, participants visited a compartment where Komeett is grown with a combination of LED toplighting and LED interlighting. Productions are far ahead compared to last year’s trial and crop status is stronger and more generative. While moving into the direction of utilizing a full LED solution for tomato crops, the challenge is to regulate temperature. More benefits are expected to come in the spring while LED lighting gives more flexibility in getting light to plants during periods of higher external temperatures.