Food security is the prime concern of the human race today. Thus, at present many initiatives are being taken up to grow the agricultural products within safe, clean and controlled environments, where effective lighting has a big role to play. The success rate is also quite impressive.

In the next sections, I’ll focus on: how a strawberry grower farm is reaping benefits from the use of artificial lighting, and how an agricultural farm is tackling the age-old challenge of managing weeds in their farm.

A big success in strawberry production

Fluence by OSRAM (Fluence), a leading global provider of energy-efficient LED lighting solutions for commercial cannabis and food production, has recently announced the results from its year-long strawberry research in collaboration with Delphy Improvement Centre (Delphy), an independent institute and expert in food and flowers located in Bleiswijk, the Netherlands. Together, Fluence and Delphy studied how Fluence’s LED lighting solutions impact strawberry production in greenhouses.

As retailers push (agricultural produce) suppliers to deliver fresh, high-quality crops year-round, growers are increasingly exploring how to allocate high-tech greenhouse space to strawberries, which are typically grown outdoors or in hoop houses (small, semi-portable structures). Fluence and Delphy examined how to sustainably grow strawberry crops in high-tech greenhouse environments while maximizing yield and fruit quality.

Commenting on their research, David Hawley, Ph.D, Principal Scientist for Fluence, informed, “Results from our collaboration with Delphy are showing that strawberries thrive under predominantly white spectra, creating opportunities for greenhouse growers to introduce new, efficient lighting strategies into their facilities. Strawberry cultivars grown under a broad-spectrum with a fraction of far-red saw taller crops, wider canopies, higher overall yields and increased Brix values. As with all crops and individual cultivars, there is no ubiquitous lighting strategy for optimizing plant yield and quality. However, our global research endeavours continue to showcase the power of optimized lighting solutions for the world’s most popular crops.”

Fluence and Delphy researchers analyzed morphology, yield and quality for Sonata and Sonsation cultivars – two of the most popular cultivars in Europe – under four spectral strategies: white (Fluence PhysioSpec R4), white with a fraction of far-red (R4 + FR), pink (R8), and pink with the same fraction of far-red (R8 + FR). Overall, during the winter flush, spectra that included a fraction of far-red saw increased performance across all categories. However, the white spectrum with a fraction of far-red recorded the best performance across categories:

  • Sonata and Sonsation cultivars saw 68% and 40% taller crops as well as 28% and 29% wider canopies, respectively, under a white spectrum with a fraction of far-red in relation to a pink spectrum. Taller and wider crops are easier to harvest and enable better air movement across plants, discouraging pathogens that would thrive in more dense, humid environments.
  • Similarly, Sonata and Sonsation cultivars grown under a white spectrum with a fraction of far-red saw 11% and 14% higher cumulative yields (including plant ‘waste’ that can be used for jams, juice or preserves) relative to those grown under a pink spectrum.
  • Researchers also reported that Sonata and Sonsation cultivars grown under a white spectrum with a fraction of far-red had 14% and 6% higher Brix values, respectively, than cultivars grown under a pink spectrum.

Describing the benefits of the research, David Cohen, CEO of Fluence, explained, “Produce managers at grocers and other retailers seek quality and consistency from their suppliers – consistency that a high-tech greenhouse facility is built to provide. Greenhouses create safe, clean and controlled environments. With an optimized lighting strategy, growers can produce crops with delicious flavours that consumers demand and yields that enable store shelves to remain stocked year-round.”

A view of the setup where Fluence and Delphy researchers analyzed morphology, yield and quality for
Sonata and Sonsation cultivars…
Photo: Business Wire

Weed control device

Carbon Robotics, an agricultural robotics company, has recently unveiled its 2022 LaserWeeder implement, an autonomous, laserweeding pull-behind robot that seamlessly attaches to the back of tractors. The new LaserWeeder is a precise, organic, and cost-effective weed control solution for large-scale specialty row crops.

In addition to an updated build, the 2022 LaserWeeder features 30 industrial CO2 lasers, more than 3X the lasers in Carbon Robotics’ self-driving Autonomous LaserWeeder, creating an average weeding capacity of two acres per hour. Growers who use Carbon Robotics’ implements are seeing up to 80% savings in weed management costs, with a break-even period of 2-3 years.

Detailing on the launch of the implement, Carbon Robotics’ CEO and Founder, Paul Mikesell described, “We’ve proven the effectiveness of our laserweeding technology and the immense benefits it offers farmers, including healthier crops and soil, decreased herbicide use, and reduced chemical and labour costs. To best serve farmers’ needs, we’ve adapted the design of our product, but will still leverage our proven laserweeding technology. Our mission has always been to provide farmers with the most effective tools, and the strong demand for LaserWeeders is evidence we’re helping them solve a serious problem.”

Carbon Robotics worked closely with leading vegetable growers to design the 2022 implement so it integrates effortlessly into existing farming infrastructure while covering more ground and solving problems associated with spraying, hand weeding and mechanical weeding.

As a liftable agricultural implement, the 2022 LaserWeeder offers unique benefits, including:

  • Higher Performance: With 30 lasers spanning three crop rows (roughly 20 feet wide), this model has an average effective weeding capacity of two acres per hour.
  • Flexible Configuration: The robot is fully adjustable for crop row widths ranging from 60 to 84 inches. Adjustments for transitioning between different crops can be made via a touch-screen without leaving the comfort of the cab.
  • Tractor Ready: The LaserWeeder is towed by common row tractors with a three-point hitch. This 2022 LaserWeeder, like its self-driving 2021 predecessor, features Carbon Robotics’ sophisticated artificial intelligence technology. This system enables the robot to instantly identify, target, and eliminate weeds using thermal energy – while rolling. Carbon Robotics’ patented lighting system enables the LaserWeeder to operate day or night in virtually all weather conditions, with millimetre accuracy.

Narrating his experience and the potential of LaserWeeder, as a happy user, Jeff Morrison, Director of Innovation & New Technology at Grimmway Farms, said, “Grimmway Farms is dedicated to protecting natural resources and the environment while optimizing crop yield and soil health. We are constantly improving our processes and evaluating new equipment to support our commitment to this mission. When we learned of Carbon Robotics’ laserweeding technology, we were eager to deploy it on our farms. This revolutionary approach to weeding has the potential to deliver precision, reliability and cost-effectiveness in organic weeding that has not previously been available, making it an ideal solution to weed management.”


In the last few years, application of artificial lighting in the agricultural sector has not only increased the production but also improved the quality of agro-produces. Beginning with round-the-clock work in agricultural setups, managing healthy growth and reaping desired amount of yields controlling growth of unwanted weeds, even drying agro-products et al are now possible with advanced lighting systems. With the latest (growing) trend of agriculture under controlled environment inside smart cities (e.g. on terrace, wall, balcony even inside living room), the lighting industry will definitely play a vital role in the coming days. The ever-growing capability and efficiency of the lighting industry will not only secure global food production but also make the processes more economic, efficient and less laboursome and hazardous.

By P. K. Chatterjee (PK)

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