Effects of LED lighting recipes on postharvest quality of leafy vegetables grown in a vertical farm
Vertical farming is a technology that controls climate, water, nutrients and light to grow food in a closed environment. This allows vegetables to grow pesticide free and without other contaminants. We investigated how to influence the postharvest quality by controlling the preharvest growth conditions while keeping a high production rate. Several standard LED lighting recipes (red/blue or red/white either with or without far red) are in use in commercial farms. For this research we used lettuce, baby leaf spinach, rocket and basil from various cultivars all grown in a vertical farm research facility. We used the standard red white LED light recipe as control, while we changed the spectrum with higher blue and/or higher far-red or apply few days of continuous light stimulation just before the harvest (preharvest). Quality at harvest and quality loss during postharvest storage was monitored. We observed that light quality affects shelf life of baby leaf spinach and rocket by several days. The best light recipe for shelf life had a high blue content (35%) while the worst was with a high far red (25%). In addition, contents of vitamin C, K, nitrate, chlorophyll and flavonols were different under various light quality. Nitrate (in lettuce, rocket and spinach) and vitamin C in rocket were strongly affected by preharvest continuous light, offering a way to reduce the nitrate and improve the antioxidant level. In addition, taste was also found to change as a function of light quality but magnitude of this change is shown to be strongly cultivar dependent.
Nicole, C.C.S., Mooren, J., Pereira Terra, A.T., Larsen, D.H., Woltering, E.J., Marcelis, L.F.M., Verdonk, J., Schouten, R. and Troost, F. (2019). Effects of LED lighting recipes on postharvest quality of leafy vegetables grown in a vertical farm. Acta Hortic. 1256, 481-488
vertical farming, shelf life, LED lighting, nitrate, vitamin C, vitamin K, taste