Optimising the light recipe for maximum photosynthesis, yield and quality in strawberry

NIAB EMR: G. Bishop, J. Lecourt
University of Lincoln: S. Pearson
University of Reading: P. Hadley

Background

The strawberry market within the UK continues to grow but we are importing an increasing volume  of fruit during the winter months. The UK has an opportunity to produce greater volumes of fruit during the winter, but this requires glasshouse technology combined with modern supplementary lighting systems. There is an on-going interest in the application of LED lighting systems in modern glasshouse as these provide an energy efficiency gain of ca. 30% over conventional high-pressure sodium systems. They also offer opportunities to provide highly defined spectral outputs to maximise productivity. However, as yet these opportunities have yet to be realised. We do not understand the optimal spectral qualities for any crop let alone strawberries, how this change through production and how they impact the key drivers (photosynthesis / radiation capture / partitioning etc) of yield and quality. This PhD will examine these issues and develop optimal strategies for the use of LED lighting in soft fruit production.

Approaches

Key research activities will include:

  1. Growing crops under a range of LED lighting systems with defined spectral outputs.
  2. Measuring the key drivers of yield over sustained periods on a whole crop basis (leaf area production, canopy light interception, carbon partitioning etc) and analysing these in relation to light spectral quality.
  3. Using a range of genetic material from the NIAB EMR collection to understand the genotype x environmental interactions in responses.
  4. Constructing mathematical models to describe the responses.
  5. Conducting detailed short term studies of strawberry photosynthetic and respiratory responses to light spectral quality in order to develop a more granular understanding of the mechanisms.