According to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), by 2050, food production must be increased by a whopping 70% to feed the large population. Combining the wonders of plant science with agricultural management, a Swedish-based company called Heliospectra has endeavored in a project that uses precise lighting techniques to “develop resilient food crops for the world’s tables.”
Control every step of the way
Heliospectra AB, “a world leader in intelligent lighting technology for greenhouse and controlled plant growth environments,” has teamed up with the University of Illinois to bring their project to life. The project is called “Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Energy,” also known as Project RIPE. This project features the helioCORE system which uses controlled LED lighting. According to Heliospectra, it gives “consistent, high-quality crop production all year-round.”
The helioCORE is the heart and soul of RIPE’s whole operation. Built to “take the guesswork out of advanced lighting,” this system ensures high-quality crop in high amounts, all while maximizing efficiency and minimizing waste. It uses adjustable lights and schedules as well as real-time data and notifications to help people predict plant growth and improve the quality of produce with a Daily Light Integral (DLI) controller. It also saves money by enabling users to “track (their) energy consumption and run (their) lights during the most cost-efficient hours when energy and utility costs are lowest.”
To learn about the unique relationship between plants and light, Heliospectra and the University of Illinois have built a 9,000 square foot greenhouse. They plan on using the space for research and development to find more “sustainable ways to increase crop yields.” They focused their studies on different plants like cassava, cowpea, and rice, in hopes of project RIPE to discover newer and better ways to maximize photosynthesis with a noble end goal in mind. According to Heliospectra, this goal is being able to produce “new varieties of resilient crops for smallholder farmers in low-income countries to improve their livelihoods so that they can lift their families out of poverty and contribute to a sustainable global food system.”
This great study explores how #LEDgrowlights can be used to implement greenhouse lighting strategies that will help meet the flavor profiles consumers demand in culinary herbs like basil: https://t.co/w9ilPr7k8f
— Heliospectra AB (@Heliospectra) November 20, 2020
It’s more than just plants and lights
According to the CEO of Heliospectra Ali Ahmadian, joining Project RIPE was an obvious step in the right direction despite difficulties they may face. Ahmadian shares that “Heliospectra’s mission from the start has been to further plant research through collaborative partnerships. RIPE’s mission aligns perfectly with our vision of feeding and healing the world”.
Ahmadian said that “Digital agriculture and advances in light control research can unleash the potential of modern crop production for the benefit of all.” When so much is wasted, be it food, light, or energy, farming initiatives such as project RIPE is working not only to preserve these precious resources but to plan for a brighter future where hunger and squandering are things of the past.
YouTube: Sustainable Solutions to Food Production | LED Grow Light Technologies
Photo credit: The featured image was taken by Brett Feddersen for Heliospectra and has been provided for press usage.