"Dynamic lighting has been a topic of conversation for some years, but how flexible can you be when you can only adjust the intensity of your fixtures? A fixed spectrum is by no means optimal for crops," says Theoharis Ouzounis, who recently joined RED Horticulture as CSO (Chief Scientific Officer), firmly believing in the potential of a fully flexible LED solution. "The right knowledge and the right fixtures enable growers to tailor the spectrum to the plants' needs throughout the day and the season. This opens the door to energy savings without compromising yields."
Photobiology as a tool
Even a broken clock is right twice a day – so why do growers still work with standard spectra? With this thought in mind, the founders behind RED began developing flexible lighting solutions for the greenhouse industry. Their mission has always been to make photobiology a tool for every grower to increase their business sustainability and profitability.
This year, the company's research facility, PARC, was inaugurated. In the four grow rooms, extensive crop trials are conducted on prominent greenhouse crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, young plants, strawberries, peppers, and floricultural crops. The company is actively pursuing licenses to conduct trials with cannabis, recognizing the growing demand and unique requirements of this market. Discussions are underway to expand these facilities further, potentially including the addition of greenhouses in the near future.
"PARC enables the researchers to validate light recipes," Haris explains. "The optimum light spectrum changes throughout the season and during the day. While intensity is a crucial component, it's not the only one. The spectrum must adapt to the specific circumstances inside and outside the growing facility. Dynamic lighting allows for real-time adjustments to meet the evolving needs of plants throughout the day and to adapt to fluctuating electricity prices. This adaptability extends to modifying lighting profiles throughout different seasons, giving growers precise control over their crops' growth conditions." Besides the research at PARC, Haris will develop partnerships with well-known universities and research institutes to better understand the impact of dynamic LED lighting at a scientific and commercial level.
Research and knowledge
Research and knowledge are integral components of the company's offerings to growers, as the RED solution encompasses more than just fixtures. In addition to dynamic lighting, RED Horticulture incorporates advanced sensor technology into its systems. These sensors gather critical data on humidity, temperature, and CO2 levels, all of which are integrated into MyRED. This centralized system feeds data into a database, enabling real-time recommendations and adjustments based on predictive analytics and sensor inputs. The result is a fully controllable and responsive environment that ensures optimal photobiological conditions and lower energy consumption.
"Flexible lights, growing knowledge, and sensor inputs," Haris summarizes. "This combination assists growers in managing their crops in terms of spectrum and intensity while saving energy concurrently." He adds that the research team has discovered guidelines to achieve the same yield while saving 30 percent on energy. "This serves as a direct example of what photobiology can achieve: providing a more sustainable solution, which is essential for the entire industry's sustainability and growers' profitability."
Dynamic lighting also provides additional flexibility to growers, a critical factor in light of virus pressures and shifting market demands. "Different varieties respond differently to light. Imagine investing in a solution optimized for your crop, only to have to choose a different variety due to market shifts or virus pressures – or even transitioning to a completely different crop. A fully dynamic lighting solution is the only way to effectively respond to these challenges."
Haris has been active in the Controlled Environment Agriculture and lighting industry for many years. He has worked in the past for Aerofarms Fluence and did his postdoc at Wageningen University, while he has lived and worked in many countries like the UAE, Netherlands, Denmark, USA, and Greece. His move to the French company showcases his unwavering belief in dynamic solutions. And he's not alone; over the last few months, the company has rapidly expanded to over 35 team members, including a dedicated team based in the Netherlands. RED is actively seeking to expand further, with open positions for a commercial director, sales representatives, a marketing manager, and a business developer, reinforcing its commitment to innovation and growth at an international level.