Controlled environment agriculture is rapidly becoming an important part of the global food system. For example, there has been much interest in the potential of large-scale, indoor agricultural production – often referred to as vertical farming – as a means to produce high quantities of produce. These “plant factories” are expensive to operate, however, in part because of the large power requirements of electric lamps that provide the type and amount of light necessary for photosynthesis in plants.
To find new methods of adapting lighting to plants’ requirements in controlled environments such as vertical farms, the researchers developed and tested a biofeedback system that allows for the control of light levels based on the physiological performance of the plants. “Controlling the intensity of light based on plants’ ability to use it efficiently may substantially reduce the energy cost of LED lighting, and contribute to making large-scale controlled environment agriculture more profitable,” van Iersel said.
The researchers used lettuce, pothos, and sweetpotato plants in experiments with photosynthetic light provided by a 400-Watt LED. Using chlorophyll fluorescence measurements, a datalogger determined how efficiently the plants used the light they received. This data was used to calculate the electron transport rate (ETR), which is an indicator of photosynthesis. The datalogger then altered the duty cycle (the proportion of time that the LEDs are energized during each short on/off cycle) of the LEDs to provide more or less light.
The target ETR was altered in a stepwise pattern over a 15-h period. The biofeedback system was capable of automatically adjusting the light levels to assure that the desired ETR was reached. As the target ETR was increased, light levels increased as well. In addition, conversion of light energy into heat (a common way for plants to deal with excess light) was upregulated, while the light use efficiency decreased. As the target ETR was decreased during the last 7 hours, conversion of light into heat decreased greatly in lettuce and pothos, with only a small increase in light use efficiency. “This suggests that the light use efficiency of lettuce and pothos was limited by a process other than conversion into heat, likely light-induced damage to the photosynthetic machinery in the leaves,” the authors noted.
“The biofeedback system successfully maintained a wide range of ETR values in different species, while it also is capable of distinguishing between conversion of light into heat and damage to the photosynthetic machinery as causes for decreases in light use efficiency,” the authors said. They said the biofeedback system has potential applications in controlled environment agriculture, as well as basic plant physiology studies, where the system can be used to maintain specific levels of physiological activity.
The Latest on: Controlled environment agriculture
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The Latest on: Controlled environment agriculture
- Saaraketha organics to modernize agricultureon October 4, 2020 at 5:00 pm
They have harnessed the future of agriculture and brought it to reality today ... project has a production capability of half a million square feet of a controlled environment, entirely solar-powered ...
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- WATCH NOW: Greenhouse campus is 'Boeing of agriculture' for S.C.on September 20, 2020 at 12:42 pm
Over the next two years, several hundred acres of land near Early Branch in Hampton County will be transformed into greenhouses for farming. Using recycled rainwater and high-tech climate controls ...
- Startup Spotlight: Raleigh agtech startup shines as pandemic drives indoor farming intereston September 13, 2020 at 5:00 pm
Founded in 2018 by serial entrepreneurs Genty and John Dominic, AgEye has pioneered in the application of novel AI technologies within controlled-environment agriculture. The company’s patented ...
- SCFB hosts U.S. ag secretary for rural roundtableon September 13, 2020 at 12:09 pm
Controlled Environment Agriculture is a technology-based approach to indoor farming that allows growers to minimize space and conserve water while controlling for factors like weather.
- controlled environment agricultureon September 11, 2020 at 4:19 pm
The idea is for indoor farmers of the future to eventually be able to link certain sounds to indicators that a plant needs more light, for example, or less nitrogen.
- Virginia researchers are studying ‘the sound of plants dancing’ to better the future of agricultureon September 6, 2020 at 6:25 pm
They are focused on indoor or so-called controlled-environment agriculture. Think greenhouses with LED lights and plants in hydroponic systems, using liquid nutrient solutions instead of soil.
- Category: Controlled Environment Agriculture Production
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