CORN AND SOYBEAN RESEARCH
The Challenge: A St. Louis fertilizer research company required indoor-grown corn and soybean plants to mimic their field-grown counterparts during research trials. The solution required adaptation to existing infrastructure.
Product Deployed: GP light (passively cooled)
Row crops such as corn and soybean, commonly grown in the Midwest US require ample sunlight to grow properly. Indoors, however, these plants can take a significant amount of time to grow and often exhibit shade-avoidance behavior, even under artificial light . Engine 2 Photonics was contracted to install a lighting system that is both compatible with the existing research space and will produce research specimens that develop analogously to their field-grown brethren. This would both accelerate this company’s trials, as well as provide a higher quality research sample for their product development trials.
Our 4 ft. long GP light arrays were installed into three existing shelving units. Each shelf contained a total of eight 41W lights.
In order to address the issues of slow plant growth. Engine 2 Photonics replaced the existing T8 fluorescent fixtures with an array of our GP LED grow lights. Eight GP units were installed in each 2x4 growing space, providing approximately 350-400 μmol/m2 s illumination on each 2x4 ft shelving unit. The result after the first few trials was a shorter, bushier soybean plant that better mimics what normally grows in the field when grown under the GP light. Under the fluorescent lights, the plants were weak, with long, spindly stems as they reached for the light.
The high-intensity illumination provided by the GP lights allowed soybean seedlings to more closely resemble their field-grown counterparts (left). The same plants grown under the T8 fluorescent bulbs are shown on the right, demonstrating a shade-avoidance response.
In addition to providing the lighting unit, some minor enhancements to the GP light were made to better equip it for research trials. The outer and inner LED arrays were made independently dimmable to adjust the light intensity. This can be used for product testing under low-light stress, as well as to balance out the light distribution in the grow space. Additionally, T-slot compatibility of our fixtures allow the lights to be moved along a rail, allowing for further light balance control as well as the ability to create very high light zones in the grow space.
Each 4 ft. rail can be moved along the t-slot fixture to concentrate or dilute light intensity as needed. This provides an additional level of control on top of the included dimmers.