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Leaf vegetables|LED lighting
Nutrient spraying intervals
Nutritional quality
Photosyntheticperformance, productivity, root-zone temperature
Issue Date: 
He, J., & Qin, L. (2022). Microclimate control to increase productivity and nutritional quality of leafy vegetables in a cost-effective manner. International Journal of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, 15(3), 55-61.
International Journal of Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Food security is one of the key global challenges in this century. In Singapore, our research team has been using novel aeroponic technology to produce fresh vegetables since 1997. Aeroponic systems allow for year-round production of not only tropical, but also sub-tropical and temperate fresh vegetables, by simply cooling the roots suspended in aeroponic systems while the aerial parts grow under tropical ambient environments. It has also been used to investigate the impacts of root-zone CO2 on vegetables by enriching root-zone CO2 while their aerial portions were subjected to constant atmospheric CO2. To compensate for the lack of available land, Singapore also needs to develop a farming system that can increase productivity per unit land area by many-fold. Over the past 10 years, my research team has established a commercially viable LED integrated vertical aeroponic farming system to grow different leafy vegetables under different LED spectra, intensities, and durations in the tropical greenhouse. The results demonstrate that it is possible to increase shoot production and rate of shoot production of leafy vegetables by increasing light intensity and extending the photoperiod under effective LED lighting. Furthermore, temperate vegetable crops such as lettuce were able to acclimate to high light intensity under supplementary LED lights to natural sunlight in the greenhouse. Supplementary LED lightings promote both leaf initiation and expansion with increased photosynthetic pigments, higher Cyt b6f and Rubisco protein contents on a per area basis and thus improve photosynthetic capacity and enhance productivity. Plants sense and respond to changes in their immediate environments (microclimate), manipulating the root zone temperature (RZT) and water supply will impact not only their growth and development but also their nutritional quality. Our on-going research aims to investigate if the nutritional quality of leafy vegetables could be improved under suboptimal RZT and mild water deficit through deficit irrigation. If substantial energy and water savings in urban farming can be achieved without substantial yield penalty but with higher nutritional quality, the amount of water and energy saved can bring substantial benefits to society.
Project number: 
RP 1/18 HJ
MEOD 2/20 HJ
Funding Agency: 
Singapore Millennium Foundation
Ministry of Education, Singapore
National Institute of Education, Singapore
Singapore Food Agency and Meod Pte Ltd, Singapore
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