Two of the UK’s largest tomato growers have completed their first full growing cycles with 100 per cent horticultural LED lighting.
APS Salads’ Isle of Wight site and Lancashire-based Flavour Fresh Solfresh Group have finished their first 12 and 10-month growing cycles respectively, meaning tomatoes can be grown all year round with lower energy costs. Flavour Fresh also said it expects to be able to increase yields by 30 per cent as a result of the new system.
Flavour Fresh previously used natural light to grow their tomato crops, meaning no tomatoes were harvested between December and March. The business, which has installed two lines of horticultural LED interlighting and toplighting, can now grow tomatoes all year round, and it said it is expecting a 30 per cent increase in yield as a result of the new system.
Flavour Fresh production manager Andy Roe said the “dawning of the LED era” is the greatest innovation in horticulture since the invention of the tractor. “The total LED installation gives 100 per cent control to us as a grower. The lighting and heating work hand in hand to reduce the need for ventilation and in turn, this reduces the total energy requirement by up to 35 per cent which is a win, win situation for the environment," he said.
APS Salads switched from a hybrid light system to 100 per cent use of horticultural LED lighting with Philips GreenPower toplights and a double row of interlighting. Phil Pearson, APS Salads group development director, said: “Before with the hybrid HPS/LED system, we couldn’t achieve consistent crops at an affordable cost, and we were also producing too much heat via HPS lighting in the winter.
“Furthermore, we are now using two-thirds less power compared to when we were running HPS-lit greenhouses. Plus we can better control the crop balance because we have total control over the heating and lighting as well as a strong ROI. The new more sustainable system will have paid for itself within three years.”
Udo van Slooten, business leader for Philips Lighting’s Horticulture business, said: “APS Salads and Flavour Fresh are a testament to how 100 per cent LED light can bring reliability of yield and taste all year round in growing fruit and vegetables. This removes the black cloud of unpredictable weather throughout the seasons that can have a dramatic impact on the bottom line of a grower’s business.”