Heliospectra AB, a world leader in intelligent lighting technology for greenhouse and controlled plant growth environments, is the chosen LED lighting and controls provider for an inspiring international food research project, Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE). The RIPE project is led by Dr. Steve Long and Dr. Don Ort of the University of Illinois.
“Using today’s technologies for high-throughput phenotyping in a state-of-the-art controlled environment, we hope to advance our academic research, introduce new protocols and most importantly, deliver new robust and resilient food crops to secure worldwide food supplies,” comments Dr. Long, RIPE’s Director and Ikenberry Endowed University Chair of Crop Sciences and Plant Biology.
Engineering Crops for Sustainable Yields
The university’s collaborative research campus is a community made up of leading plant science researchers, industry leaders and technology firms in the digital agricultural space. RIPE has established a modern plant phenotyping facility, set in a 9,000 square foot greenhouse
to research sustainable ways to increase crop yields. With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, and the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, this project’s High-Throughput Phenotyping Facility (HTPF) joins a growing ag-tech cluster in the university’s Research Park. The HTPF is expected to be open and fully operational by the end of the year.
Harnessing Light to Help Feed the World
RIPE’s research focuses on cassava, cowpea, maize, soybean, and rice, with the aim of improving photosynthesis, the natural process all plants use to convert light energy and carbon dioxide into energy to produce yield. They hope to produce new varieties of resilient crops for smallholder farmers in low-income countries to improve their livelihoods so that they can lift their families out of poverty and contribute to a sustainable global food system.
“Heliospectra’s mission from the start has been to further plant research through collaborative partnerships. RIPE’s mission aligns perfectly with our vision of feeding and healing the world,” explained Ali Ahmadian, CEO, Heliospectra. “Supplemental lighting and robust, advanced light control systems can optimize photosynthesis and yields to ensure consistent, repeatable results. The world’s population is expected to reach 8.5 billion in the next 10 years. Digital agriculture and advances in light control research can unleash the potential of modern crop production for the benefit of all.”
Future-Proofing the World’s Food Supply
The high-tech RIPE facility, built by Fox/Atkins Development and networked by T. Davis Electric, will be lit by Heliospectra’s ELIXIA adjustable spectrum LED lighting and controlled by the helioCORE™ light control system. Designed for all stages of plant growth and production, Heliospectra’s technologies enable flexible lighting strategies using adjustable light wavelengths and variable light intensities.
HelioCORE’s sensor integrations and dynamic response will ensure that RIPE crops always receive the precise amount of light needed. The schedule module will enable the researchers to prolong or extend photoperiods and quantify the effects of light wavelengths and intensities on photosynthesis and plant development. The researchers will be able to measure plant responses to extreme or seasonal light and even replicate the light conditions of different geographical regions, such as fields in the Middle East versus Scandinavia or the Midwest United States.
To keep the world fed, experts predict that by 2050 we will need to increase food production by a daunting 70%
. By empowering scientists and growers with advanced LED lighting technology, Heliospectra is redefining nature’s potential with the goal of feeding and healing the world.