Heliospectra AB of Sweden collaborated with Gothenburg University and biotech companies CropTailor and OlsAro to successfully grow oats and barley under sole source LED lighting. They also grew oats and barley under conventional HID lighting for comparison. The goal of the study was to see how grains grow under different light conditions, with emphasis on the effects that far red light has on the development and flowering of crops. The study was conducted at the University of Gothenburg, in a temperature-controlled growth cabinet. The study employed Heliospectra’s adjustable LED lighting system the LX60 Series as the light source. The crop growth and development was monitored under two different LED light treatments during the growth cycle. The study looked at growth parameters including plant structure, developing time, flowering time, grain quality and yield.
The study was conducted at the University of Gothenburg, in a temperature-controlled growth cabinet. The study employed Heliospectra’s adjustable LED lighting system the LX60 Series as the light source. The crop growth and development was monitored under two different LED light treatments during the growth cycle. The study looked at growth parameters including plant structure, developing time, flowering time, grain quality and yield.
Many did not believe that oats and barley could flower in an enclosed environment lit with only LED grow lights. Heliospectra wanted to demonstrate that oats and barley could flower and grow lit only with LED lights in an enclosed environment. The company also wanted to evaluate the spectrums impact on the crop’s development. The company found that both oats and barley flower and grow well under the right lighting conditions. Also, our ongoing studies on wheat look promising, according to Daniel Bånkestad, research and development engineer at Heliospectra AB.
Under the far-red lighting unit, oats and barley started to flower after about 5 weeks. Then, after 6 weeks, the plants in
the non far-red unit started to flower also. Visual inspection revealed no other clear differences. After 9 weeks the differences between the treatments were found to be more distinct. Plants grown under far-red treatment grew an average of 10 cm taller (up to 110 cm tall), and had better grain quality. The numbers obtained for oats in the far-red unit of up to 110 cm
tall, 55-60 grains per panicle, and two grains per mini ear were strikingly good.
After 13 weeks the grain quality was evaluated more thoroughly. Every grain on each panicle (oat) and on each ear (barley) was inspected and counted. Oat treated with far-red had large panicles with 55-60 grains in each with a majority of the mini ears having two grains. Whereas the oat not treated with far-red had just 30-35 grains per panicle and one grain per mini ear. The size and weight of the grains did not differ significantly.
For comparison, oat grown under HID light (mixture of HPS and metal halide lamps, 124-203 µmol/m2/s in PAR 20 cm above the bench) in a growth room reached only about 60 cm in height and had approximately 25 grains per panicle. Most mini ears under HPS and metal halide lights contained one grain.
The study revealed that far red light seems to be beneficial, especially for the growth of oats. The research found that under a spectrum that included far red LED light, the number of seeds per panicle for the oats and seeds per mini ear were remarkably good. Such findings point to the potential for seed production in a controlled environment, Johanna Lethin at Gothenburg University noted.
Staffan Hillberg, CEO of Heliospectra pointed out that the ability to efficiently grow and cultivate staple foods such as oats, barley and wheat in a controlled environment anywhere in the world minimizes the use of water and allows farmers avoid growing in contaminated soil and water.