World's first optical spectrometer for LED crop cultivation - News - University of Derby

World's first optical spectrometer for LED crop cultivation

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Experior Micro Technologies Ltd, a Derby based electronics and software engineering company is collaborating with the Institute for Innovation in Sustainable Engineering (IISE) at the University of Derby on the development of the world’s first optical sensor designed specifically for agricultural applications.

The sensor will allow horticulturists to measure the spectrum and intensity of light incident on crops growing in controlled environments such as greenhouses and allow them to supplement sunlight with artificial lighting from LED lights to reduce time-to-harvest and maximise crop health.

According to Dr Jim Thorpe from Experior Micro Technologies “currently, there is a lot of interest in the use of LED lighting to support natural lighting in commercial crop production. LEDs allow growers to accelerate the growth of their plants by up to 50% by increasing the amount of red, green or blue light present at different stages of the crop’s development. Currently, there is no simple method for measuring the light generated by LEDs when mixed with sunlight in horticulture, so much of the work in understanding how LED lighting improves crop yield is down to guesswork. Our sensor will solve that problem.”

Dr Ahmad Kharaz, Reader in Intelligent Instrumentation from IISE and the College of Engineering and Technology at the University of Derby added: “We have a strong optics background at the IISE, this project provides us with a new set of challenges compared to our interesting traditional research”.

“At IISE we are glad to be able to provide our expertise and support to a local company in the development of a novel product that solves a problem in a new and interesting field.”

The collaboration has resulted in a robust, compact and cost-effective sensor that will enable horticulturists to remotely monitor and control the intensity and wavelength of light incident on crops grown with the aid of artificial illumination. This allows commercial growers to optimise illumination cycles for particular crop varieties, maximise crop yields and increase their profit margins.  Evaluation of the sensor’s performance will be undertaken in field-trials beginning in the summer of 2016.

Experior Micro Technologies Ltd is a customer orientated engineering consultancy company that provides knowledge, guidance and technical support to clients in the development and implementation of electronics, software and telecommunication solutions for their businesses. Please contact or call 0116 3183941 for more information.

The Institute for Innovation in Sustainable Engineering (IISE) supports advanced manufacturing sector across our region, supporting local industry with research and prototyping.

Working with industrial partners in manufacturing and engineering, the Institute delivers cutting-edge solutions to challenges SMEs are facing.  With access to the very latest technological resources, including machinery and equipment supplied by our partners, companies can improve their efficiencies, increase the range of materials they work with and respond to customer requirements for innovation within their supply chain. At the same time, research undertaken at IISE feeds in to postgraduate programmes at the University, introducing practical innovation in to the curriculum and inspiring the next generation of engineers.

For more information about IISE please contact or call 0800 0015500

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