Agriculture, a new C-LED research programme in partnership with the University of Pisa

C-LED – the Cefla Group company that is Italy’s leading producer of high-tech LED lamps – continues its experimentation with LED lamps for the agri-food sector. In recent months C-LED has begun a series of experiments together with the Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie, Alimentari e Agro-ambientali of the University of Pisa and the Sant’Anna High School of Pisa. The aim is to assess, in the fruit and vegetable sector, the performance of C-LED lamps with a special UV radiation emissions recipe designed to improve the nutraceutical qualities of the produce.

An investigation of UV radiation thanks to C-LED’s specific light ‘recipes’

Collaboration with C-LED, in fact, lets research groups use lamps with specific spectra according to the results to be achieved, during both crop growing and the post-harvest phase, leading to improved energy efficiency compared to traditional lighting systems. This particular study focuses on the possible applications of UV radiation. An integral part of the solar spectrum, the latter is known for its ability to stimulate the production of a number of bioprotective compounds, which boost plant resistance to stress and have beneficial properties for human health. The study was conducted bearing in mind that the materials used for the construction of greenhouses and tunnels usually shield UV radiation. Optimisation of such light spectra is useful for re-integrating this type of radiation into lighting (while, however, avoiding excessive doses of potentially harmful ultraviolet emissions).

LED lamps for young ornamental plant seedlings

Moreover, the research also focuses on the use of LEDs as the sole light source in the nursery propagation phase – together with the use of biostimulants – to produce high quality YOPs (Young Ornamental Plants) that can survive post-planting stress while shortening production times and improving energy performance. This study – which involves manipulation of the light spectra – aims to optimise plant response in terms of size, morphology, final product quality and hardening control before planting.

The effects of LED lighting on vegetables

As far as the growing phase is concerned, evaluation of the effects of LED lighting on production, in quantitative and qualitative terms, is carried out as part of research involving aeroponic system trials for non-seasonal growing of vegetable crops. This experimentation, being performed inside the greenhouses of the Horticulture and Floriculture section of the Dipartmento di Scienze Agrarie, Alimentari e Agro-ambientali of the University of Pisa, involves the use of C-LED lamps for the soiless cultivation of leafy vegetables (lettuce, basil, etc.) during winter.

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