In our white paper series, we have covered the definition of truly dynamic lighting and explored how implementing dynamic LED lighting can reduce greenhouse energy consumption, increase crop yield, and improve crop quality. To refresh, a truly dynamic lighting solution must meet the following four criteria:
In this white paper, we explore how dynamic lighting enables a greenhouse operation to grow and adapt through its modularity and flexibility.
A key component of building a dynamic system is modularity, an increasingly popular feature in many systems which allows a technology to be implemented at various scales. Modular systems are made of independent, repeated entities that are combined to form a larger unit. These repeated entities can be added, removed, or changed without affecting the whole. An example of this is a solar power system, which is composed of multiple panels that are each a functional unit linked to a power grid that can consequently be scaled up or down. Similarly, light fixtures themselves are modular in that a system can be scaled up or down by adding or removing fixtures. Modular systems are designed for expansion, use at multiple scales and independent control of units within the larger system.
With legacy lighting, which is predominantly high-pressure sodium (SON-T) and other HID fixtures, the system is only modular in that additional light fixtures can be added to the system. Once zones have been defined by their electrical installations, control is limited to the scale of the entire zone. Modularity is thus severely limited.
Dynamic lighting solutions such as Sollum Technologies’ are modular both at the level of the fixture and the system. As with legacy systems, fixtures can be added and removed from the overall system. However, Sollum Technologies’ SUN as a Service® (SUNaaS) distributed platform then allows the grower to group the lamps into zones which can be easily reconfigured without any physical modifications or additional hardware. Modularity is completely preserved.
“Dynamic lighting solutions such as Sollum Technologies’ are modular both at the level of the fixture and the system.”
Once light fixtures are grouped into grower-defined zones, the greenhouse light environment is perfectly flexible and can be modified with the click of a mouse. The grower can develop zone-specific light scenarios by selecting a specific photoperiod, light intensity and spectrum. For example, a grower can begin the photoperiod with Spectrum #1 at a given intensity, then transition to Spectrum #2 midday and an end-of-day treatment with Spectrum #3. To reiterate, each light zone can have its own lighting scenario that can be modified at any point, whether throughout the day or between production cycles.
The modularity and flexibility of truly dynamic light provides greenhouse growers with unparalleled means of adapting their lighting strategy according to the external fluctuations previously mentioned, namely the adaptation to shifting market demands, pest and disease pressure, climate variations and greenhouse expansion.
“Each light zone can have its own lighting scenario that can be modified at any point, whether throughout the day or between production cycles.”
Previous white papers have elaborated on the use of dynamic lighting to impact crop growth (e.g., use of far-red light for internode elongation and flowering response). Given the current white paper’s focus on adaptation to a changing world, this section elaborates on the ways in which dynamic lighting can help growers navigate environmental and market-related challenges.
A major challenge in greenhouse production is pest and disease pressure, which are bound to fluctuate in response to climate and environmental changes. Greenhouse pests are typically managed through integrated pest management (IPM), which encompasses the combination of proper hygiene and sanitation, consistent pest scouting, biological control and the occasional use of chemicals in dire cases. With dynamic lighting, an additional strategy becomes available. Through strategic partnerships with Canadian universities and industry, Sollum Technologies is working to develop light-assisted pest management by studying the behavior of pests and biologicals in response to different light conditions. Further, dynamic lighting allows growers to easily change crops between seasons, which can help break the reproductive cycle of crop-specific pests. When changing crops, growers can adapt their lighting strategy accordingly- something which is not possible with fixed spectrum LED or HPS lighting.
“Dynamic lighting allows growers to easily change crops between seasons, which can help break the reproductive cycle of crop-specific pests.”
I Hein, T. 2012. Climate change and greenhouse operations in Canada. https://www.greenhousecanada.com/climate-change-and-greenhouse-operations-in-canada-20204/
ii LaPlante, G., Andrekovic, S., Young, R.G. Kelly, J.M., Bennett, N., Currie, E.J., Hanner, R.H. 2021. Canadian greenhouse operations and their potential to enhance domestic food security. Agronomy. 11:1229. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061229