Continuous lighting can improve yield and reduce energy costs while increasing or maintaining nutritional contents of microgreens

Front Plant Sci. 2022 Sep 30;13:983222. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2022.983222. eCollection 2022.

ABSTRACT

Microgreens represent a fast growing segment of the edible greens industry. They are prized for their colour, texture, and flavour. Compared to their mature counterparts, microgreens have much higher antioxidant and nutrient content categorizing them as a functional food. However, current production practices in plant factories with artificial light are energy intensive. Specifically, the lack of sunlight within the indoor structure means all of the light must be provided via energy consuming light fixtures, which is energy intensive and costly. Plant growth is usually increased with the total amount of light provided to the plants – daily light integral (DLI). Long photoperiods of low intensity lighting (greater than 18h) providing the desired/target DLI can reduce the capital costs for light fixtures and electricity costs. This is achieved by moving the electricity use from peak daytime hours (high price) to off-peak hours (low price) during the night in regions with time-based pricing scheme and lowering the electricity use for air conditioning, if plant growth is not compromised. However, lighting with photoperiods longer than tolerance thresholds (species/cultivar specific) usually leads to plant stress/damage. Therefore, we investigated the effects of continuous 24h white light (CL) at two DLIs (~14 and 21 mol m-2 d-1) on plant growth, yield, and antioxidant content on 4 types of microgreens – amaranth, collard greens, green basil, and purple basil to see if it compromises microgreen production. It was found that amaranth and green basil had larger fresh biomass when grown under CL compared to 16h when the DLIs were the same. In addition, purple basil had higher biomass at higher DLI, but was unaffected by photoperiods. Plants grown under the CL treatments had higher energy-use-efficiencies for lighting (10-42%) than plants grown under the 16h photoperiods at the same DLI. Notably, the electricity cost per unit of fresh biomass ($ g-1) was reduced (8-38%) in all microgreens studied when plants were grown under CL lighting at the same DLIs. Amaranth and collard greens also had higher antioxidant content. Taken together, growing microgreens under CL can reduce electricity costs and increase yield while maintaining or improving nutritional content.

PMID:36247650 | PMC:PMC9564221 | DOI:10.3389/fpls.2022.983222

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