One of the UK’s leading science parks is introducing new pink LED plant growth lighting in its five large blocks of glasshouse cubicles that will cut carbon emissions by almost half.

As part of its on-going investment in environmental sustainability, the National Agri-Food Innovation Campus (NAFIC), near York, is replacing more than 600 incandescent metal halide plant growth lights with LED light units.

As well as halving the wattage per bulb from 400 to 200 watts, the LED units have a much longer bulb life – up to 50,000 hours – so require less maintenance.

The high-production glasshouses are used by the site’s largest tenant, Fera Science, to facilitate its research work on plant pests and diseases from all over the world.

The new units consist mainly of red and blue LEDs, which are the key parts of the light spectrum plants use for photosynthesis. This results in a very distinctive pinkish hue within each glasshouse.

The custom design of the new light mechanisms allows Fera’s scientists to adjust the lamp height depending on the type of plants being grown.

Liz Cashon, Innovation Campus Manager at NAFIC, said: “The new LED lamps last five times longer than the metal halide versions and require less maintenance. They also produce less radiant heat, which will cut the frequency of plant watering, particularly in the winter months.

“In addition, the units are smaller and produce less shade, which reduces the loss of ambient growing light. They also produce more even lighting across the glasshouse.

“Sustainability is important to us and to Fera Science, but clearly we needed to ensure the new lighting would not impact plant growth.”

Danny Skelton, Plant Propagator, FERA Science Ltd, adds: “We ran a number of trials before choosing the product that gave the best results. The early signs are that the plants respond well to the new lighting, but we will continue to monitor that over the coming months as we complete the roll-out across the glasshouses.”

NAFIC hopes to complete the installation of more than 620 Phytolux Attis-7 LED units by the end of 2018.

The glasshouse LED project is part of a much bigger LED replacement plan for 2018-9, to update the 10,000 lights across the site including offices and laboratories (over 300,000 square feet). NAFIC has committed to reducing its carbon footprint over the next five years and LED light fittings are 70-80% more energy efficient, contributing to significant carbon reduction. 

Submitted on 25/04/2018