Vertical farming company Kalera from Florida, USA, has teamed up with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences to conduct a study focusing on the effect of LED lighting by the end-of-production period. The results showed that by exposing lettuce to LED lighting before harvest, the nutritive value would increase.
The new study, “Effect of End-of-Production High-Energy Radiation on Nutritional Quality of Indoor-Grown Red-Leaf Lettuce,” was published in HortScience on June 1, 2020. The research found that by using high-energy LED lighting prior to harvest, red-leaf lettuce significantly increases the production of antioxidants and especially of anthocyanins, compounds in plants that may offer health-promoting benefits by protecting cells from free radicals — exciting news for health-conscious consumers. By only using high-energy LED lighting for the last few days before harvest, both yield and quality could be maximized indoors, indicating promising and cost-effective future practices for the vertical farming industry.
Most study of vertical farming addresses on the quality or quantity of horticulture lighting throughout the production cycle. But the new research by University of Florida evaluated the use of end-of-production (EOP) high energy light as a cost-effective, pre-harvest practice for growers to manipulate product quality and increase market value of lettuce.
EOP radiation is a pre-harvest solution achieved by exposing plants to supplemental radiation, typically acting as an induced stressor, near the end of the cropping cycle after sufficient growth has already occurred. The process can increase the nutritional quality of plant products and without negatively affecting yield.