Fluence teams with growth media specialist on year-round strawberries

Oct. 10, 2023
A trial horticultural study in the Netherlands aims to establish the best combination of light and salt levels to optimize flavor and other qualities.

Horticultural lighting vendor Fluence is going electric in its latest research endeavor. Electric, that is, as in studying the relationship between LED lighting and the process by which electricity flows through a growth medium to help or hinder the development of greenhouse strawberries.

Fluence has teamed with Dutch growth media specialist Grodan in a Wageningen University & Research (WUR) trial in which WUR is studying how to optimize “EC” levels to facilitate year-round cultivation of Favori strawberries.

EC stands for "electrical conductivity," and is an indicator of salt levels. A high EC corresponds to high salt levels, which — depending on the time of year and other factors — can be good or bad for the fruit. Further complicating the EC effect, sometimes a high level might undesirably limit the size of the fruit while potentially enhancing the flavor.

Lighting and other factors can affect the level. WUR researchers are aiming to find the optimal mix of inputs for the desired outcomes. The team is working with Grodan’s stone wool growing media. 

“During the grow-out trial, various agronomic treatments will be investigated, including lighting, irrigation, and climate management strategies,” Austin, Texasbased Fluence and Roermond, The Netherlandsbased Grodan said in a joint press release. “The results will give insights for the optimum cultivation conditions and yield.”

The trial began in August at WUR’s Bleiswijk facility in The Netherlands. “A number of events are planned to take place during 2023 and 2024 with the aim of transferring this knowledge towards growers and stakeholders in the industry,” Fluence and Grodan noted.

Fluence is part of Dutch lighting giant Signify, which recently renewed an ongoing partnership with WUR to pursue horticultural lighting research. Signify works with WUR both through Fluence and through Signify’s Philips Horticulture LED Solutions division.

Stone wool, also known as rock wool or mineral wool, is made from basalt, a volcanic rock.

MARK HALPER is a contributing editor for LEDs Magazine, and an energy, technology, and business journalist ([email protected]).

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About the Author

Mark Halper | Contributing Editor, LEDs Magazine, and Business/Energy/Technology Journalist

Mark Halper is a freelance business, technology, and science journalist who covers everything from media moguls to subatomic particles. Halper has written from locations around the world for TIME Magazine, Fortune, Forbes, the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Guardian, CBS, Wired, and many others. A US citizen living in Britain, he cut his journalism teeth cutting and pasting copy for an English-language daily newspaper in Mexico City. Halper has a BA in history from Cornell University.