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Canada home to first LED light-based tomato farm

Canada plays host to first LED light-based tomato farm

By BizLED Bureau

Feb 18, 2016: LED lights are increasingly becoming the talk of the town. In an attempt to stretch the tomato growing season, owners of a Canadian-based company installed red, blue and bright light emitting diode (LED) lights to give warmth to cold grey light of winter at their four-acre indoor farm.

Canada plays host to first LED light-based tomato farm

According to Bob Mitchell, the owner of the indoor farm, the 13-month-old experiment is a real learning experience. LED lights have the ability to affect different tomatoes differently. Grape tomatoes love the LED lights, giving an intense violet glow which is visible to a distance. On the other hand, the beefsteak tomatoes do not favour LED lights. This example clearly defines the different effects of LED lighting.

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Compared to natural light, the effect of artificial light on nutrient content is not known yet. The testing process is still going on and we are yet to reach to a conclusion, he further added. Tomatoes are fed with a customized mix of fertilizers based on extensive testing of plants.

Mr Bob Mitchell spent three years researching the LED lighting system before buying it.  He received multiple assurances from the system’s manufacturer as how the LED lighting system will help him in the growing season.

‘This is a fairly new approach and we are constantly trying to find things. We want to share our experiences with the industry. But we want to showcase ourselves as a production facility rather than being known as a research ground, he further added.

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Mr Mitchell has been monitoring the water coming back from the hydroponic plants. He has been taking soil and leaf samples from plants and sending them for analysis to determine which nutrients the plants are lacking or using up too quickly. He’s changed the LED lights to study the effect on the plantation.

The constant work of Mr Mitchell has attracted the attention of researchers who see the challenges. They see it an as an opportunity to study the impact that different types of light have on plants.

Carmen Perez, the co-owner at Suntech and wife of Mr Mitchell, handles much of the day-to-day administration, residents nearby have been complimentary about the purple rays that light up the sky.

The place has become quite an attraction and they receive a lot of email from people appreciating their work and initiative. Suntech is experimenting with new black lights to help grow tomatoes and the lights are turning the sky bright purple at night.

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