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- Author or Editor: Ajay Nemali x
High energy-use cost for electric lighting is one of the major issues challenging sustainability of the indoor lettuce-farming industry. Thus, maximizing electrical energy-use efficiency (EUE, g·KWh−1), defined as the ratio of dry matter production (g) to electrical energy consumption (EEC, KWh−1), is crucial during indoor production. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are energy efficient and highly suitable for indoor farms. Research on optimal spectral quality of LEDs for lettuce growth is extensive; however, there is limited research examining LED spectral quality effects on EEC and EUE. Photon efficiency, defined as the ratio of light output to electrical energy input (PE, µmol·J−1), generally is used for selection of LED fixtures. Because PE does not account for differences in emitted light spectrum, it is not clear whether light-fixture selection based on PE can maximize EUE in lettuce production. This study comprised two experiments. In Expt. 1, we used four “phosphor-converted” commercial LEDs with different light intensities and spectra to model the effect of light spectral quality on lettuce shoot dry weight (SDW), EEC, and EUE. We also evaluated relations between EUE vs. PE and EUE vs. PER (PE based on red light) for indoor lettuce production. Results indicated that light spectral quality affected SDW, EEC, and EUE in lettuce production. Fitted models indicated that EEC increased linearly with increasing percentage of red-light output and was unaffected by other spectral colors or ratios. However, EUE increased in a curvilinear fashion with an increasing ratio of red to blue (R:B) light and reached a maximum at a ratio of 4.47. Similar to EUE, SDW also responded in a curvilinear fashion to R:B. Results also indicated that EUE correlated poorly with PE but linearly to PER. In Expt. 2, we grew three lettuce varieties under two commercial LED fixtures. They had similar levels of PE but different percentages of red, R:B, and PER values. Regardless of the variety, fixtures with greater percentages of red, R:B, and PER significantly increased EUE. We conclude that red-light quality is an important determinant of EUE and growers should select fixtures based on R:B and high PER in indoor lettuce farming.