Light Science Technologies (LST) has continued to strengthen its academic connections by adding additional expertise and new equipment from the University of Nottingham (UoN) to develop its AgTech capabilities.
University graduate student Kellie Smith has joined the team for a three-month internship in their purpose-built, state-of-the-art laboratory facilities to help develop the perfect plant recipe for indoor growers and growers.
Discussing her recent experience with duckweed, Kellie explained, “By controlling nutrients, lighting and temperature, we can see how these affect plants and what elements we can change to maximize growth. These experiments also help us determine which varieties make for a good food source.”
New strawberry attempt
The same principle is applied to her work at LST in a three-month strawberry trial, working alongside academic roommates CC Foo and Laura Briers in the Derby-based company’s in-house laboratory.
Kellie continued, “We’re using previous data – an optimized light recipe – which we’ve taken for this new experiment and simply changed the light levels. We want to see through that if we can improve growth and optimize yield and ultimately quality, we are providing less light or energy. At a time of rising energy costs, cost savings and profits are vital for growers.
By tracking plant growth and conditions of the strawberry plants, if we maintain EC and pH of the nutrient soil EC, we can see how parameters such as height, crown width, flower and fruit number, and yield vary between strawberry plants under different light intensity treatments and moisture content constant.
Kellie, along with the rest of the team, benefits from using an infrared gas analyzer, a LI-COR LI6800, a portable system that LST has invested in that allows them to track carbon assimilation (photosynthesis). However, thanks to LST’s collaboration with UoN, the study is expected to go a step further and produce data at a higher level.
The machine usually comes standard with a chamber onto which a leaf can be clamped to monitor photosynthesis at a given light intensity. However, UoN has borrowed its own clear chamber head, which allows measurements based on LST’s light recipe. This allows the team to output photosynthetic differences between
different light recipes. As Kellie points out, this is “something we can’t do without the special UoN kit”.
Accelerate AgTech development
Simon Deacon, Founder and CEO of LST said, “One of the biggest pain points for CEA farmers and breeders is incurring significant expense before they even come close to achieving the ideal recipe. LST’s lab solves this problem by helping to recreate the perfect growing environment before committing to any large investments. Leveraging our strong relationship with UoN and the expertise of its academic specialists like Kellie are critical to what we achieve try to refine the right growing recipe.
“LST’s investment in technology and equipment demonstrates our full commitment to the ‘art’ of plant science and will help accelerate the development of future lighting and environmental technologies for horticulture as we search for more sustainable, energy-efficient ways of growing fresh produce Looking for.”