Published 01/05/2014

Diffuse Light for Better Plants

Dutch greenhouse study shows using diffuse light results in 25% growth rate increase.

It’s not a new concept, but as the industry increasingly becomes aware of diffuse light and its benefits and potential, researchers are pressing to quantify the gains it can provide. In particular, the premise that when diffuse light can be deployed at will, such as via a retractable screen, more light can be brought into the greenhouse. This can, of course, significantly affect multiple factors in greenhouse production.

In addition to impacting efficiency through lower heating and cooling expenses, diffuse light can have a significant positive impact on plant quality and productivity. In fact, so interested are researchers at the Netherlands’ Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture that they’ve embarked on a multi-year study examining its benefits.

“Sunlight is free. Why would we not use it?” says Leo Marcelis, lead researcher of the WUR. How? “Diffuse.”

The first study yielded impressive results, finding that producing various varieties of commercial potted plants under a light-diffusing screen could shorten the production time by 25% and result in better-quality plants.

Setting the stage
The research stems from scientists’ belief that the best greenhouse coverings scatter the light, but don’t reduce it. Previous research at Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture found that during darker parts of the year—such as November—greenhouse films and coverings reduce light transmission and diffuse light doesn’t make up for it.

Thus, the study compares a greenhouse with a standard greenhouse screen to greenhouses with light-diffusing screens, like XLS 55 F Harmony Revolux (Harmony 5220 O FR) from Svensson. All of the greenhouses were also equipped with Svensson energy screens and had standard glass on the greenhouse roof....

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