Studies have shown that the use of blue light in vertical farming can have a strong influence on a variety of crops, increasing their flavor profile and overall quality. In this study, Signify wanted to see if the addition of blue light made a difference in the shelf life and quality of the basil. The test was divided into two groups, using different light treatments for both green and purple basil. Other than purple basil showing a higher starch and sugar content at postharvest — possibly allowing it to withstand chilling bruises at 4°C — there was little change over time for both groups at 12°C storage.
Signify conducted experiments, along with Wageningen University, to see if Basil would have a positive reaction to an increased level of blue light as showcased by previous research conducted on lettuce. As per their conclusions, the basils’ performance under increased blue LED lighting did not seem to be positively affected by blue LED lighting.
According to Dr. Céline Nicole, a plant specialist at Philips Horticulture LED Solutions, “researching the impacts of blue illumination on a crop like basil, helps us to guarantee we are attaining the finest flavor and quality possible.” According to Nicole, basil, like other aromatic herbs, has a lot of phenolic chemicals that the plant uses for defense, development, and reproduction. Phenolic compounds are a class of plant chemicals that are present in fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens naturally and which benefit both the user and the plant by promoting health. For instance, a plant’s phenolic profile can provide the user with nutritional benefits such as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties while protecting the plant from blackened leaves brought on by oxidative damage. Compared to other LED wavelengths, blue light is known to activate these molecules the most. The ideal LED formula is crucial to obtaining the highest crop harvest quality since they also impact flavor and other organoleptic qualities.
Researchers conducted the experiment to determine whether adding more blue light affected the basil’s quality and shelf life. When testing both green and purple basil, the experiment was split into two groups and given various light treatments. The seedlings for both groups were cultivated in a controlled climatic environment with Philips GreenPower red/white light kept at a distance of 25 cm from the plants. The crop was irrigated using an ebb and flow system, and the daytime and evening temperatures were both set at 25°C. The relative humidity was also set at 75%. A reasonable CO2 level was maintained for the basil. These tests examined a number of cultivars.
Experiment 1 investigated different percentages of blue light applied either as a continuous treatment throughout the growth (i.e., for 25 days) or as EOP (End of Production).
Experiment 2 investigated different EOP with various percentages of blue light up to 90%. All plants were harvested 35 days after sowing.
Similar to findings from other studies on fruits and leafy greens, basil does not appear to benefit from blue LED illumination. There was no change over time for either group at 12°C storage, with the exception of purple basil having a greater starch and sugar content at postharvest. Anthocyanin levels, which determine a plant’s color, and metabolites, which determine a plant’s flavor profile, did not significantly rise.
“This research confirmed that the light recipe we applied in our Philips GreenPower LED grow lights for basil production actually guarantees the highest possible taste and crop quality we can achieve with LED lighting so far. We are confident to provide the best light recipe for our customers to grow basil in a vertical farm; that will not only guarantee the yield, but that will also ensure an optimal quality of the crop.” asserts Nicole. This research shows that the addition of extra blue light is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and it is important to provide growers with optimal advice for their situation based on thorough research.
Image provided by Signify
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