Time to shed new light on the issue of UK food security?

Yield, taste, and time to harvest can all be impacted by light. Photosynthesis (the process by which plants convert sunlight to biomass) is a bottleneck in agricultural productivity and thus limits food production. Increasing the rate of photosynthesis in field crops and enabling year round production of green vegetables are among the goals to be discussed at the Agri-TechE event “Let there be Light” hosted by the University of Essex Plant Innovation Centre.

“Light is a limiting factor in UK agriculture, but new approaches offer to improve the way plants respond to that light, opening capacity for new crops and year-round production, as the country looks to build more resilient supply chains to increase food security,” says Agri-TechE Director, Dr. Belinda Clarke.

A blended approach of field and undercover cropping may increase the UK’s potential to be self-sufficient in leafy greens, says University of Essex researcher John Stamford, who is looking at how to use tailored LED lighting recipes to improve crop performance and yield.

“Speaking to farmers, there are a few issues around the supply of leafy greens in the supermarkets. Around November production switches from the UK to Spain which means we are importing these crops over the winter months. The idea here is to improve the accessibility of hydroponics to potentially have cost-effective year-round UK production. Light plays an important role in that.”

Read the complete article at www.horticultureconnected.ie.

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