Dirk Willaert, Owner, Hortis Group, shares his experiences with the Philips GrowWise control system from Signify.
Hortis Group grows tomatoes at two sites in Belgium: Sint-Gillis-Waas and Moerzeke. The company has over 14 hectares of cultivation area in total, including 12 hectares in Sint-Gillis-Waas. Hortis Group is using full LED in combination with the GrowWise control system for its first season cultivation.
Dirk Willaert said: “It makes sense to put premium tomatoes under LED light because of the financial investment such a system requires. There is more of a market for specialty tomatoes under LED than there is for beef tomatoes, for example.”
Willaert’s positive experience with Signify was the deciding factor in choosing Philips GreenPower LED Toplighting Compact in combination with their GrowWise Control System. Grow lights with a light level of 260 μmol/m2/s have been installed, and they are estimated to burn for about 3,500 hours per year.
Willaert said: “LED allows you to grow under cooler conditions compared to traditional HPS lighting, so you get plants with a deep green colour that glow with health. This also creates a particular taste and fresh-looking product that is attractive to consumers in stores.”
Willaert also felt it was important, to be able to dim the LED lights to the desired light intensity. Signify’s GrowWise Control System provides this capability, allowing uniform light levels throughout the day. This dimming option also allows growers to slowly awaken the crop by mimicking the rhythm of the sun or use grow lights up to 10% more efficiently.
Willaert added: “Because you use this system in combination with natural light to deliver a constant amount of light to the plants, you achieve a more uniform production. On a sunny day, for example, this quickly adds up to 1000 Joules/cm2/day of energy or 15 mol/m2 of daylight. If you then turn the lights on full, you end up with as much as about 2000 Joules/cm2/day, 30 mol/m2 in total. A traditional checkerboard distribution of lights would never result in an even light distribution for the crop. However, now that you can dim the lights, it is possible to distribute the light evenly over the crop.” That also reduces power consumption since the lamps only need to deliver the intensity the plant needs at that moment in time.
As far as Willaert is concerned full LED is very much the future because you can control crops better and produce them all year round.
Wallaert concluded: “We want to be able to provide the consumer with a top product 12 months a year that is produced in an environmentally friendly wameetsd still meet all the requirements. Innovation in sustainability is key here. Our CHPs were already very important in this regard, and the dimmable full LED technology is another big step in the right direction!”