‘Landscapes of the future’: How solar-powered LEDs could improve crop growth and cut pesticide use

The field of leek in the Netherlands where GROW is trialling its ‘light recipe’. Credit: GROW/Ruben Hamelink/Daan Roosegaarde
The field of leek in the Netherlands where GROW is trialling its ‘light recipe’. Credit: GROW/Ruben Hamelink/Daan Roosegaarde

GROW, which was developed with partners Wageningen University and Rabobank, is trialling its vertical ‘light recipe’ across an enormous field of leek at Lelystad in the Netherlands. The country is one of the world’s largest agricultural producers, exporting €65 billion ($78.8 billion) of fruit, flowers, vegetables, meat and dairy products each year.

Specialized LEDs are commonly used to grow crops in greenhouses and are increasingly seen in ‘vertical farms’ in cities. However, scientists believe there may also be potential for using LEDs in more traditional and rural settings.

The solar-powered LEDs augment the light plants normally receive during the day. [Dutch artist and innovator Daan] Roosegaarde’s project is also investigating whether brief exposure to some wavelengths of UV light could reduce the need for pesticides.

“A specific ultraviolet light activates the defence system of plants,” Roosegaarde told Dezeen. “And what is interesting is that it works on all crops. So we can reduce the use of pesticides.”

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Roosegaarde’s eventual goal is to take the artwork on tour to 40 different countries, with each featuring a local or national crop and tailored light recipe.

Studio Roosegaarde aims to create “landscapes of the future.” 

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