Crops Grown With vs. Without Supplemental Light

As any gardener or farmer knows, light plays a crucial role in plant development, impacting everything from photosynthesis to fruit quality. However, the question remains: is supplemental lighting necessary, and how does it influence the growth of crops?

To uncover the answers, we conducted an experiment that focused on ultraviolet (UV), infrared (IR), and Deep Red light, specifically examining their impact on tomato plants.

Experiment Setup

In this experiment, we focused on understanding how varying types and combinations of supplemental lighting impact tomato plants. To do this, we divided a single tomato variety into eight groups and subjected each to specific lighting conditions with the FC-6500 system. Here's a more detailed look at the treatment for each group:

Experiment Setup

Main Lighting Schedule (FC-6500):

- From 5:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Supplemental Lighting Schedules:

- UV: Operated for 5 minutes per hour from 5:30 a.m. to 5:35 p.m. for the first five days. Afterward, it increased to 10 minutes per hour from 5:30 a.m. to 5:40 p.m.

- IR: Active for 15 minutes before and after the main lighting, from 5:15 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.

- Deep Red: Operated throughout the day from 5:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Growing Conditions

Growing Conditions

To ensure that the effects observed were due to lighting and not environmental factors, the experiment maintained consistent growing conditions for all groups:

- Temperature: 22-28°C

- Humidity: 65-75%

- Soil Composition: Peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite in a 3:1:1 ratio

These conditions provided a controlled environment, allowing us to accurately assess the effects of different lighting conditions on the growth, yield, and quality of the tomato plants.

Experiment Results After 106 Days

1. Fruit Color Development:

Fruit Color Development

- Observations: From the images, it is evident that red light treatment accelerates fruit development and hastens color change, while UV light alone does not have this effect.

- Combination of IR and Deep Red: The combination of infrared (IR) and deep red light significantly accelerates fruit development, promoting earlier ripening and faster color transition. This ensures the fruit reaches a market-preferred, ripe appearance more quickly.

- Enhanced Pigmentation: This improved coloration signals the fruit's readiness for harvest and meets market standards for bright and vibrant tomatoes.

- Mechanisms: The effect is due to IR's ability to deeply penetrate plant tissues, stimulating growth and maturation, while deep red light enhances pigment changes linked to ripening.

2. Sugar Content:

Sugar Content

Data shows that increasing light intensity encourages sugar accumulation. Supplementing with UV and deep red light increases sugar content, making tomatoes sweeter and more flavorful.

- UV Impact: UV light promotes the production of secondary metabolites like flavonoids, which improve flavor.

- Deep Red Impact: Deep red light influences photosynthesis and sugar accumulation by boosting the plants' carbohydrate production.

3. Yield:

- Enhanced Fruit Quality and Yield: Our studies reveal that integrating UV and Deep Red lights with standard lighting protocols (like FC-6500) not only increases the quantity of fruits but also enhances their overall quality. The combined use of UV and IR light results in fruits that are not only larger but also have better coloration, which is crucial for market appeal.

- Promotion of Flowering in Short-Day Crops: Promoting Flowering in Short-Day Crops: The impact of Infrared (IR) light varies among different crop types. While it has minimal influence on day-neutral crops like tomatoes, it significantly enhances flowering in short-day crops such as strawberries and weed, potentially leading to increased fruit set and higher yields. Although the IR series did not play a major role in this experiment, the Adlite IR series, which emits 730-745 nm IR light, can effectively decrease the amount of phytochrome red (Pfr) to promote flowering in these short-day plants, including strawberries and certain herbs. If you are interested in We are interested in the role of the IR series and we will consider conducting a separate subsequent experiment.

- Consistent and Reliable Results: The use of these lights results in consistent improvements in crop yield and quality when compared to baseline conditions (CK1), where no supplemental light is used. While high-intensity light (CK2) shows a natural increase in yield and quality, the addition of UV and Deep Red light consistently surpasses these benefits, providing superior results in terms of weight and fruit development.

The Impact of UV Light on the Cultivation of Herbaceous Plants

Herbaceous Plants

Our studies reveal that supplemental lighting, particularly UV light, plays an essential role in enhancing plant growth. This insight is supported by comprehensive research such as "The Impact of UV Light on the Cultivation of Herbaceous Plants," which underscores the transformative effects of UV-A and UV-B light on herb cultivation. These effects span several key areas:

1. Enhanced CBD and Terpene Production: UV-A and UV-B rays are particularly effective at boosting the production of CBD and terpenes. This is achieved through an increase in trichome density on the plant surfaces, which are not only reservoirs for cannabinoids but also produce natural protective compounds against UV radiation. The result is herbs that are significantly more potent and aromatic, providing an enhanced flavor profile and increased medicinal value.

2. Robust Pest and Disease Resistance: UV light encourages plants to produce specific defensive compounds, which naturally repel pests and inhibit fungal pathogens. This biological protection reduces the need for synthetic pesticides, aligning with more sustainable and organic farming practices.

3. Desirable Plant Morphology: Exposure to UV light modifies the physical structure of herb plants, promoting more compact growth and smaller leaves. This adaptation also tends to enhance the pigmentation of the plants, yielding visually striking herbs that stand out in the marketplace. These aesthetic and structural enhancements are particularly valued by commercial clients and boutique growers who prioritize quality and presentation.

Incorporating UV lighting into commercial and boutique cultivation setups can thus not only elevate the quality and appeal of the crops but also improve overall profitability by maximizing the yield of high-value compounds and minimizing pest-related losses. This strategic use of UV light harnesses the natural capabilities of plants for a more efficient and quality-focused cultivation approach.

Supplemental Lighting Solutions

The impact of UV, IR, and Deep Red light on crop optimization was clearly demonstrated in our study. If you want healthier plants and better yields, integrating UV, IR, and Deep Red supplemental lighting is essential. The ADLITE series from Mars Hydro provides a range of solutions designed specifically to meet these needs.

ADLITE UV Series

As previously mentioned, the UV light improves plant vibrancy, flavor, and nutritional value. The controlled application of UV light from our ADLITE UV Series, emitting a spectrum of 365-370nm rich in UV-A light, is particularly beneficial. UV-A light is known to significantly boost the levels of THC and CBD in herb plant strains, enhancing both their medicinal properties and overall robustness.

With the ADLITE UV Series, growers gain the ability to precisely administer UV light at optimal stages of plant development. This targeted approach stimulates the production of valuable secondary metabolites like flavonoids and anthocyanins, which not only enhance the plant's defense mechanisms against pests and diseases but also improve the overall health and resilience of the plants. This series ensures that your cultivation practices yield stronger, healthier plants with enhanced qualities, making it an indispensable tool for modern horticulture.

ADLITE IR Series

Infrared (IR) lighting from the ADLITE IR series penetrates deep into plant tissues, stimulating stem growth and flowering. It plays a crucial role in regulating growth cycles and metabolic activity. By helping plants transition efficiently between growth stages, this series optimizes flowering and fruit-bearing, ultimately improving yields.

ADLITE Deep Red Series

The ADLITE Deep Red series extends flowering periods and increases fruit size. It enriches the coloration of flowers and fruits, enhancing aesthetic appeal and nutritional quality. This specialized lighting system ensures that plants reach their full potential, making the harvest both visually stunning and nutritionally superior.

These lighting systems can be key allies in achieving more productive and successful cultivation, ensuring your plants receive the right kind of light at the right time.

Why Not Simply Incorporate UV and IR into Full Spectrum Lights?

The incorporation of UV and IR light into full spectrum lighting systems is not as straightforward as it may seem, mainly due to concerns over timing control, increased failure rates, and inefficacy.

Lack of Timing Control: UV and IR lights have specific roles in plant growth and health, necessitating precise timing in their application. UV light boosts disease resistance and phytochemical production, but excessive exposure can damage plant DNA and tissues. IR light influences plant sleep cycles, affecting processes like flowering and germination. Integrated lights often lack the ability to independently control the timing of UV and IR emissions, which is crucial for replicating natural light cycles and triggering specific growth responses at optimal times.

Increased Failure Rate Due to Complexity: Integrating UV and IR lights adds complexity to full-spectrum LED systems. This involves additional electrical components such as circuits and power sources tailored to the distinct needs of these light types. More components increase the potential for manufacturing challenges and system failures. Each element, like a separate LED driver or independent control circuitry, introduces new points of failure. A malfunction in any component can affect the entire system's functionality, reducing its reliability and longevity.

Inefficacy of Embedded UV and IR: The actual benefits of UV and IR lights depend on their intensity and quality. Specific wavelengths within the UV and IR spectra are needed to trigger plant responses like stress defense and flowering. However, many systems that include UV and IR do not provide these wavelengths at sufficient intensities to be effective. Inadequate UV might not offer the expected benefits for stress signaling, while insufficient IR could fail to regulate photoperiodic responses properly. Consequently, the growth conditions might not be optimal, preventing plants from achieving their full potential in terms of yield, quality, and health.

Conclusion

The strategic use of UV, IR, and Deep Red supplemental lighting can significantly enhance your crop growth, yield, and overall quality. Integrating these advanced technologies into your cultivation process will ensure a healthier and more productive harvest.