Monday, February 23, 2009

JJNN: LED veggies

Welcome again to JJNN for February 23rd, 2009. Today I will be talking about a new way of growing vegetables.

A farming venture company in Kyoto named Fairy Angle (what a name, huh?) has been experimenting with different ways for growing vegetables. They have been using lights of different colors as different stages of development to make sure the vegetable turns out shaped well and full of nutrients. You can see the original article here.

The company believes that if the vegetables are grown with red light they will undergo a faster form of photosynthesis and thus lead to bigger and more nutritious vegetables. This got me thinking. Could it really be true that different color lights could change the rate of something as natural as photosynthesis? I went and did some poking around the internet and found this article put out by CU Boulder in 2001. The gist of the article is that red light might speed up photosynthesis just a little bit, but that is really lost within the noise of the experiment. In other words, it is not really measurable, which means it might not even exist.

The Kyoto company also says blue light helps the vegetable take its shape. I don't really get this. You never see carrots come out of the ground looking like pumpkins just because they didn't get any blue light. Well, I guess I can't say that because blue light is included in the white light that the vegetables get. Maybe I should do my own experiment with a darkroom, some red lights and carrot seeds.

The article also states that they are using green lights. That made me shake my head. The leaves of the vegetable are green because they are reflecting back all of the green light. If you shine just green light on a plant it would be just the same as keeping the plant in a dark room.

Normally something like this would never get into the news, but this company made a change. They changed from normal colored light bulbs to LED lights. They are being shown as great pioneers that are thinking of the environment while trying to produce new plants. The truth is that the best way to think of the environment is to let the plants grow outside in normal sunlight.

I will leave you a picture of this vegetable factory.

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