Location
Enhancing crop quality and diminishing water use in bedding plants

Research

PO 017 - Enhancing crop quality and diminishing water use in bedding plants

Start Date: 
01/07/2013
Completion Date: 
31/12/2015
Project Leader: 
Dr Ian Todd, Lancaster University
Code: 
PO 017

Industry representatives: Sarah Fairhurst; Philip Boileau

HDC project cost: £9,814

 

The Problem:

Bedding plant producers aim to ensure plants are at the appropriate developmental stage to send to market to meet production schedules. Judicious irrigation management (transient water deficits followed by re-watering) can retard / accelerate crop development, but impacts of these management decisions on product quality are not well known. Low light levels limit crop growth especially during winter, thus many growers use supplementary lighting (eg. high pressure sodium lamps), but the economic costs of this lighting can be substantial. LEDs provide a more energy efficient alternative lighting source. On-going work is demonstrating the benefits of LEDs when used as a sole lighting source for annual crop production. However, potential benefits of using LEDs as supplementary lighting in UK glasshouse conditions are not clear. Both transient
water deficits and the spectral quality of LED lighting will affect multiple plant physiological processes, such as photosynthesis, transpiration and the biosynthesis of, and/or sensitivity to, endogenous plant hormones (particularly ethylene) that regulate crop growth and quality. Impacts of these treatments on foliage quality (leaf colouration) and flower longevity (petal drop) have received little attention, despite obvious commercial significance.
 
 
Aims and objectives:
1. To determine the impacts of water deficits and LEDs providing different spectra (applied singly or in combination) on the physiology and crop quality (commerical value on leaving the nursery, and shelf-life within the distribution chain and beyond point-of-sale) in model bedding plant species;
2. To assess whether these physiological changes require changes in crop management (eg. water and nutrient management).