Philips and horticulture company Deliscious have developed a new concept for lettuce by using LED lighting. In a special climate chamber small lettuce plants grow above each other in layers under LED’s whose light spectrum has been adjusted to make the plants grow better. Optimising the growing process ensures rising yields for the grower and a consistent quality of the vegetable. With the correct lighting Deliscious can produce perfect crops of lettuce with roots throughout the year.
“This is the first real harbinger of ‘cityfarming’, a new and sustainable concept that’s being used in more and more densely populated areas to grow food in unusual places, such as on terraces and roofs. Taking into account the increasing urbanisation and the need to provide food, this innovation ensures optimal use of the growing surface”, says Udo van Slooten. Director of LED Horticulture at Philips. “Space, water and energy are growing scarcer and that’s why we’re working on sustainable growing methods. The multiple layer cultivation, such as is used at Deliscious, is ground breaking and an example for the future.”
From seed to plant under LED lights
In the spring of 2012 the first plantable lettuce plants from the new growing chamber will appear. During the first phase – from seed to plantable plant – the lettuce is grown in a special climate chamber that’s 8 metres high, in stacked in seven layers, lit by GreenPower LED lights form Philips.
After over a year of testing in a single growing layer with different light levels and spectrum, the right light recipe was found for the propagation of clod lettuce without daylight. This doesn’t only considerably reduce the propagation phase, the quality of the lettuce is also more constant during the various seasons. In the still to be built multiple layer climate cell, internal logistic and climate control will be developed further.
By using this new light formula, Deliscious can control the complete production from lettuce seed to fully formed lettuce and negative external influences on quality and origin can be kept to a minimum. This makes a more efficient production possible and enables the company to supply lettuce throughout the year with a constant quality and reliability.
The new building
Besides the LED lighting Philips has also taken the operational financing in its hands through Philips Lighting Capital. With this Philips wants to give horticulture companies the opportunity to switch to innovative solutions with LED lighting quickly. This means horticulturists can pay back the lighting eventually from the increased proceeds.
The other parties involved with the new building are Light Interaction for supplying the LED lighting, Wilk van de Sande and B-E de Lier supplied the technical installation, CODEMA Systems Group did the internal transport and Maurice Kassenbouw built the greenhouses, screen installation and company area with all the concrete works. Horiplan did the mobile gutter system (MGS system), Demtec did the plantrobots and Press Line and Sercom did the climate computers.