As we know, indoor farming offers distinct benefits when compared to outdoor agricultural production. However, certain plants do not develop sufficient pigments to provide the plants the colors consumers expect. How to solve this problem? Now researchers find that using red-blue LED grow lighting at the end of the production cycle overcomes this obstacle.
So far, even economists who monitor agricultural markets now recognize the advantages of greenhouse and indoor hydroponic crop production. Growers can benefit from the ability to control growing conditions, such as the quality, quantity, and duration of light exposure, temperature, carbon dioxide and relative humidity levels, and the amount of water and nutrients provided to the plants.
In fact, greenhouse growers who relied on ambient sunlight for illumination faced a significant challenge. The glazing on the glass and the structure of their grow facilities blocked as much as 50 percent of photosynthetic producing light. As a result, certain types of produce, such as red leaf lettuce, do not develop pigments that give the vegetables the characteristic color consumers expect. Fortunately, horticulturalists working at Purdue University recently published their research findings that provide a solution. Exposing plants to blue and red LED lights at the end of the production cycle spurs the synthesis of the pigments that give plants the color consumers demand.
The Benefits of LED Grow Lights for Plants
The scientists based their research on previous studies demonstrating the advantages of using red-blue LED grow lights as the sole lighting source in indoor farming environments. Here are the benefits in the following:
- The plants grown using LED lighting produced more phenols, flavonoids, and antioxidants than those grown using other light sources.
- Plants contain higher levels of chlorophyll, which allows the plants to capture more energy for photosynthesis
- Plants produced using LED grow lights have better leaf structure and greater size when compared to plants grown using other types of illumination.
What effects did using different spectrums of LED lighting at the end of the production cycle have on plants?
LED Grow Lighting Improves Plant Color
The research team at Purdue compared the levels of the pigment anthocyanin, which gives plants a reddish hue, in red leaf lettuce grown with different end of production lighting sources. The five different lighting conditions included the following:
- High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) lighting used as a supplemental lighting source applied at the end of the growth cycle.
- A control condition with no supplemental lighting at the end of the production cycle.
- An experimental group using only monochromatic red LED grow lights at the end of production
- A group of plants exposed to a combination of red and blue LED grow lights
- An experimental group using only monochromatic blue LED lighting
The picture below illustrates the color differences in the red leaf lettuce varietals grown in each of the lighting conditions.
The findings of this testing are as follows:
- The maximum improvement in leaf color occurred seven days earlier in plants exposed to a 50:50 mix of red and blue LED lights throughout the growth cycle.
- Monochromatic blue lights increased anthocyanin seven days sooner than plants in the monochromatic red condition, which emphasizes the importance of light in the blue area of the spectrum for the production of this pigment.
- Plants exposed to LED lighting for as few as three days at the end of the production cycle had deeper red leaves than those not exposed to LED lights.
If you are considering making a switch to LED grow lights,you can follow this instruction. This research demonstrates a way to make the transition incrementally if you are not in a place to equip your entire indoor grow operation at one time.
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