LED lighting for maximizing quality parameters in specialty crop production

Award Information
Department of Agriculture
Award Year:
Phase I
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Small Business Information
Space Center, 1212 Fourier Drive, Madison, WI, -
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Robert Morrow
Senior Scientist
(608) 229-2728
Business Contact:
Thomas Crabb
(608) 827-5000
Research Institution:
Convincing scientific evidence has associated dietary choices with chronic disease expression. Dietary guidelines now in place are designed to prevent the onset of such chronic diseases as tissue-specific cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and osteoporosis. The cornerstone of recommended dietary guidelines is increased consumption of fruits and vegetables. Current USDA dietary guidelines recommend eating 7-9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. However, average adult consumption in the United States is only 4.4 servings per day, with an estimated 42% of Americans eating<2 daily servings for fruits and vegetables. Consumption of vegetables provides the human diet with many essential vitamins and minerals important for health maintenance. Vegetables also contain secondary metabolite phytochemicals, which provide benefits beyond normal health maintenance and nutrition and play active roles in chronic disease reductions. If these beneficial compounds could be significantly increased in fresh fruits and vegetables through environmental manipulation, these ?functional foods? could have a significant benefit to human health and well being. The objectives of the proposed project will be to use the unique characteristics of solid-state lighting, particularly the ability to control spectral composition and to provide high light intensities in specific wavebands, to investigate the impact of light spectral quality and intensity on the leaf tissue concentrations of nutritionally important compounds and taste factors in brassica and lettuce specialty crops. The information from these tests would likely apply to many other specialty food crops grown in greenhouses and other protected environments. Successful completion of the proposed project will provide added value to specialty crops by increasing the nutritional value and levels of beneficial plant compounds. Even a small percentage increase in market price on a greenhouse crop that would not require equipment or cultural inputs beyond what is already generally being used in these production systems could have a significant impact on the economic success of this industry. Using data from the 1998 Census of Horticultural Specialties for greenhouse lettuce production, a 25% price premium for a lettuce crop with enhanced anti-oxidants could provide added annual revenues of $17,000 for an average producer. Improving the nutritional value of fresh fruit and vegetables would provide health benefits to Americans, who tend to under-consume fresh fruits and vegetables, in part compensating for this deficiency. Additionally, the advancement of solid-state lighting technology and protocols for horticultural crops in protected environments can reduce waste, time to market, and operating costs through increased power efficiencies.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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