The smart lighting units can improve productivity and increase energy efficiency
By Jackie Clark
Researchers and growers have combined expertise to harvest the first crop of peppers grown in the winter under LED lights in Canada at Allegro Acres in Kingsville, Ont.
“Ontario has the largest concentration of greenhouses in North America … and the vast majority are growing tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers,” Louis Brun, CEO of Sollum Technologies, told Farms.com.. Old lighting technologies had some success with tomatoes and cucumbers, however peppers were rarely produced on a large scale in the winter “which is why Sollum targeted that crop.”
The LED lights are from Sollum Technologies, a Montreal-based company.
“Our fixtures are smart-connected objects, which means that each fixture can run autonomously,” Brun explained. The lights can modulate to alter intensity and colour to imitate natural sunlight.
“We replicate the sunrise, sunset,” he added. Sollum worked with the growers at Allegro Acres to create the lighting scenario that would most benefit the crop with the goals of increased production, reduced days to harvest, and better crop quality.
The result was four acres of bell peppers harvested just before Christmas.
Sollum experts can “recreate exactly the light that would be optimal for the crop. That’s the breakthrough, that we’ve actually been able to create that light dynamically,” Brun said. “The benefits are productivity, quality, but also energy efficiency.”
The LED units can sense the sunlight coming in from outdoors and then “modulate very precisely (to provide lighting to fill) the gap between the targeted light that the grower wants and the actual incoming light, optimizing what is needed for the crop and minimizing electricity use,” he explained.
Sollum Technologies’ “vision is to have as many greenhouses equipped with our solutions (as possible) so that crops can be produced locally year-round, even in winter, and be available and distributed in Canadian grocery stores.”
RedSun Farms photo