PlantLab and Illumitex Agree to LED Plant Research Collaboration

Advances in LED lighting and controls enable researchers to ‘dial up’ the right light for every plant. Soon, traditional glass greenhouses will be a thing of the past.

PlantLab, a privately owned Dutch company that specializes in controlled environment agriculture without daylight, has selected US based Illumitex as the exclusive supplier of advanced LED technology for its new 66,000-square-foot research and development centre, which officially opens in September. The research centre will be located near the Food & Health Campus in the city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

Contrary to the sun and traditional lighting such as TL lighting, LED only omits one colour of light. No energy is wasted with  light spectra that are not used or less used by the plant. This means growers can provide exactly the colours that the plant needs for photosynthesis. Plants mainly need blue and red light for photosynthesis and far-red, a colour not even visible to the human eye but visible to the plant. The relationships between the light colours determine the form of the plant and how it grows.

PlantLab employs PPU’s (Plant Production Units) based on revolutionary technology and proprietary algorithms to optimize the production of different crops. PlantLab’s patented technology is applicable in many fields such as: breeding, pharmaceutics, ingredients, cosmetics, flavorings and fragrances, specialty foods, flowers, potted plants, vegetables and fruits. By utilizing PPU’s and proprietary mathematical models, state-of-the-art LED systems, air control advances and maximum water control solutions, PlantLab’s innovations remove the typical variables that hinder crop growth and delivery. This means it is now possible to accurately control crop yields, growing times, nutritional content and other factors such as taste and appearance.

“We are happy with Illumitex as the supplier of the most sophisticated LED systems for our specific purposes in our new R&D facility,” said Leon van Duijn, PlantLab CTO.

Illumitex Quantum grow lightIllumitex Inc., a vertically integrated maker of innovative horticulture LED lighting solutions, will supply its new research LED light fixture, Quantum, for PlantLab’s new R&D center. Quantum is the most advanced plant research tool available today, allowing PlantLab researchers the ability to precisely dial in a specific balance of wavelengths to develop a precise spectrum.

“PlantLab and Illumitex agree that vanishing resources mean humanity cannot continue to rely on traditional methods of growing plants,” said Chris Hammelef, Illumitex CEO.

The small size and relative coolness of LEDs means that the lighting can be set quite close to the plants. This allows racks or layers of plants to sit on top of each other. By cultivating in layers a lot of space is saved. It is technically possible to cultivate in five, ten or even twenty layers in a large hall. Also, in a Plant Production Unit, less evaporation is needed to cool the crop and all the water that the plant evaporates is collected and reused. This means savings of 90% compared to traditional cultivation methods in greenhouses and open fields.

This new research facility will determine the precise wavelengths that will work together with other factors such as heat and moisture, to deliver sustainable optimum crop yields.

Written by Julie Allen

11 Jun