Light Science Technologies (LST), one of the UK’s leading AgriTech firms, has opened its new, state-of-the-art in-house laboratory as it aims to revolutionise indoor farming by helping growers create the perfect plant recipe.
As one of the first in the world designed to allow its scientists to continue working safely even through a pandemic, the purpose-built testing facility at LST’s Derby site will mimic, via a test and replicate process, a grower’s closed indoor environment and test new crops in its controlled environment chambers managing temperature, humidity and CO2. By running up to 12 concurrent trials in 6 chambers, a team including in-house scientists and top-level industry experts will harness historical and real-time data to help farmers and growers create the right recipe.
Utilising its Conviron A2000 reach-in grow chambers along with its integrated, fully updateable and bespoke lighting solutions, LST’s lab offers multiple benefits to growers while helping them achieve the optimal yield, including lowering CAPEX and OPEX costs.
By harnessing advanced lighting technology, LST’s lighting systems can identify the right spectral wave forms and PPFD levels required for any species of plant or microbiology and can validate the performance of a grower’s existing set-up or compare new solutions independently, using its own Quantum PAR Photo-Goniometer testing facility. Built inside a 22-metre bespoke light tunnel using its 2021 SSL Spectral Photo Goniometer, it can accurately measure PAR (400nm-700nm) Quantum PAR (250nm-1040nm) and CIE.*
The lab’s capabilities also mean it can measure plant health thanks to the LIcor LI-6800, the only photosynthesis system capable of measuring combined gas exchange and fluorescence from leaves and aquatic samples in just a few seconds with the highest level of accuracy and detail. It also instantly details temperature and humidity.
Other key elements include advanced water and environment testing, used to help growers identify the macronutrients in their plants and check for all types of food safety, quality and chemical contamination. And, to ensure only plant performance data is collected, GrowFoam, a natural biodegradable growing medium that has no effect on the plant, will be used in the chambers.
One of the most ground-breaking aspects of the lab is the focus on developing an AI capable of monitoring and proactively controlling environmental parameters and plant performance, by leveraging LST’s partnership with a number of universities and its work using an in-house Big Data resource. Using the latest stacked GPGPU technology, data can be brought to life to increase plant performance, taste control and quality.
Simon Deacon, CEO of Light Science Technologies said: “The opening of the laboratory demonstrates our full commitment to the ‘art’ of plant science and will help accelerate the development of horticulture lighting and environmental technologies over the next few years and beyond as we seek out more sustainable, energy efficient ways of farming.
He continued: “Our testing facility provides a multi-faceted solution with game-changing potential to controlled environment agriculture (CEA) farmers and the industry at large: not just recipe development for higher density and profit margin crops, but a pathway to industry-leading scientists in different plant species and equally importantly, an opportunity to prototype new crops before investment.”
Picture caption: LST’s new in-house lab showing use of Growfoam in chambers