Colored light floods the room. One shelf is a stark white, the next a deep blue, a third crimson red. Yet another is far-red—a color so extreme it’s barely visible to the naked eye. These lights can get intense. When you step outside, everything looks green.
But this light show is not for wowing concertgoers or setting a mood. It’s for plants, specifically the crops of the future.
The lights are one of several new climate-control technologies at Uplands Farm in Cold Spring Harbor, New York. Where conventional greenhouses limit growers’ capabilities to simple temperature changes, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s (CSHL’s) new state-of-the-art growth chambers give plant biologists the power to do much more. They can control everything from light frequency to humidity and carbon dioxide levels.
“The new chambers installed this spring can mimic the real severe weather conditions we are now experiencing and expect to continue,” says CSHL Senior Farm Manager Timothy Mulligan. “Temperature spikes or crashes along with elevated carbon dioxide levels in full blazing sun or deep shadows—super dry or very wet—can be programmed and observed in real-time. In other words, we can create weather.”