UK tomato crops thrive under LED-only lighting

September 30, 2016
Written by Philips Lighting
Sept. 30, 2016, Eindhoven, the Netherlands – U.K.’s largest tomato grower APS Salads and supermarket tomato supplier Flavour Fresh Solfresh Group have both completed their first 12- and 10-month growing cycles, respectively, using 100 per cent Philips LED lighting.

This marks a trend to move from hybrid lighting, combining LED and conventional high-pressure sodium (HPS), to 100 per cent horticultural LED lighting to improve yield and grow consistently tasty, fruit and vegetables all year round.

APS Salads, with its Wight Salads site in the Arreton Valley on the Isle of Wight, is a leading supplier to many of the U.K.’s leading food retailers. The company’s mission is to grow high-quality, tasty tomatoes all year round.

In conjunction with Philips Lighting business partner, CambridgeHOK, APS Salads moved to 100 per cent use of horticultural LED lighting with Philips GreenPower toplights and a double row of interlighting.

 “Before with the hybrid HPS/LED system, we couldn’t achieve consistent rops at an affordable cost, and we were also producing too much heat via HPS lighting in the winter,” said Phil Pearson, group development director at APS Salads and chair of the British Tomato Growers’ Technical Committee.

CONSISTENT QUALITY YEAR ROUND

“However, after 12 months with 100 per cent LED, we are growing consistent quality tomatoes right through the winter that taste as good as mid-summer ones.”

He added they are using two-thirds less power compared to when they were running HPS-lit greenhouses.

“Plus we can better control the crop balance because we have total control over the heating and lighting as well as a strong ROI. The new more sustainable system will have paid for itself within three years.”

After the decision was made to move to 100 per cent LED lighting, it took CambridgeHOK only eight weeks from the order being placed to the LED lighting being switched on. The new horticultural LED lighting can produce a total of 220 μmols/s/m20) at 2.7 μmols/Watts, which out-performs other manufacturers in terms of efficiency.

FLAVOUR FRESH

Based in Southport in Lancashire, Flavour Fresh Solfresh Group is one of the leading U.K. salad producers and supplies leading supermarkets with Sweet Rosso, Piccolo, Santini and Tomkin varieties of tomatoes.

Before moving to horticultural LED lighting, Flavour Fresh used natural light to grow their tomato crops. This meant that no tomatoes were harvested between December and March.

In contrast, since Philips Lighting business partner CambridgeHOK implemented 100 per cent LED with two lines of horticultural LED interlighting and toplighting at the 0.5ha area of the greenhouse, Flavour Fresh will now be able to grow tomatoes all year round.

"DAWNING OF THE LED ERA"

“The dawning of the LED era is without doubt the greatest innovation in horticulture since the invention of the tractor,” said Andy Roe, production manager at Flavour Fresh.

Phillips Lighting has developed horticultural LED light to unlock the science of plant physiology and passed on this technical wizardry to benefit growers and food consumers.

“The total LED installation gives 100 per cent control to us as a grower,” added Roe. “The lighting and heating work hand in hand to reduce the need for ventilation and in turn, this reduces the total energy requirement by up to 35 per cent which is a win-win situation for the environment.”

INCREASE IN YIELD

Flavour Fresh is expecting an increase in yield of its tomato crop using the LED technology by around 30 per cent.

“APS Salads and Flavour Fresh are a testament to how 100 per cent LED light can bring reliability of yield and taste all year round in growing fruit and vegetables,” said Udo van Slooten, business leader for Philips Lighting’s Horticulture business.

“This removes the black cloud of unpredictable weather throughout the seasons that can have a dramatic impact on the bottom line of a grower’s business.”

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