Researchers at Michigan State University in East Lansing are working on research that will help local cut-flower farmers grow their crops in a more sustainable and profitable way.
Roberto Lopez, an associate professor of horticulture in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and his team are working to show how LED lights can cut growers’ energy bills and reduce production time. “Some plants need more than 12 hours of light to flower,” says Lopez. “If you want to grow high-quality plants in Michigan, you have to supplement sunlight with high-intensity electric lights.”
Currently, the industry relies on high-pressure sodium lamps, or HPS lamps, for supplemental lighting. LEDs use less energy and come in a variety of colors; different colors can promote different growth properties in the plants. The choices in colors and how long the lights are on are the variables Lopez is using in his experiments. He and his team are trying to find the best settings to grow the best cut flowers as quickly as possible.
There is a significant investment in upgrading to LED lights, Lopez says. While the long-term savings are obvious, they can also help growers in the short run by accelerating plant growth, reducing time to harvest, and accentuating features that are most attractive to florists and consumers.
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