UK Tomato Growers Maximize Yield Rates with LED Grow Lights

Philips Lighting, a global leader in lighting, today announced that the UK’s largest tomato grower, APS Salads and supermarket tomato supplier, Flavour Fresh Solfresh Group, have both completed their first 12 and 10 month growing cycles respectively using 100% Philips LED light. This marks a trend to move from hybrid lighting, combining LED and conventional high pressure sodium (HPS), to 100% horticultural LED lighting to improve yield and grow consistently tasty, fruit and vegetables all year round.

APS Salads with its Wight Salads site in the Arreton Valley on the Isle of Wight is a leading supplier to many of the UK’s leading food retailers. The company’s mission is to grow high-quality, tasty tomatoes all year round. In conjunction with Philips Lighting business partner, CambridgeHOK, APS Salads moved to 100% use of horticultural LED lighting with Philips GreenPower toplights and a double row of interlighting.

 An APS Salads worker checking on tomatos. (All photos courtesy of Philips)

Phil Pearson, group development director at APS Salads and chair of the British Tomato Growers’ Technical Committee commented, “Before with the hybrid HPS/LED system, we couldn’t achieve consistent crops at an affordable cost, and we were also producing too much heat via HPS lighting in the winter. However, after 12 months with 100% LED, we are growing consistent quality tomatoes right through the winter that taste as good as mid-summer ones.”  Pearson added, “Furthermore, we are using two-thirds less power compared to when we were running HPS-lit greenhouses. Plus we can better control the crop balance because we have total control over the heating and lighting as well as a strong ROI. The new more sustainable system will have paid for itself within three years.”

After the decision was made to move to 100% LED lighting, it took CambridgeHOK only eight weeks from the order being placed to the LED lighting being switched on. The new horticultural LED lighting can produce a total of 220 μmols/s/m20) at 2.7 μmols/Watts, which out-performs other manufacturers in terms of efficiency.  

A female worker checking tomato crops.

Flavour Fresh 

Based in Southport in Lancashire, Flavour Fresh Solfresh Group is one of the leading UK salad producers and supplies leading supermarkets with Sweet  Rosso, Piccolo, Santini and Tomkin varieties of tomatoes. Before moving to horticultural LED lighting, Flavour Fresh used natural light to grow their tomato crops. This meant that no tomatoes were harvested between December and March. In contrast, since Philips Lighting business partner Agrolux implemented 100% LED with two lines of horticultural LED interlighting and toplighting at the 0.5ha area of the greenhouse, Flavour Fresh will now be able to grow tomatoes all year round. 

Andy Roe, production manager at Flavour Fresh said, “The dawning of the LED era is  without doubt the  greatest  innovation in  horticulture  since  the  invention  of  the  tractor.  

A woman harvesting tomatos.

Phillips Lighting has developed horticultural LED light to unlock the science of plant physiology and passed on this technical wizardry to benefit growers and food  consumers. He added, “The total LED installation gives 100% control to us as a grower. The lighting and heating work  hand  in  hand  to reduce the  need  for  ventilation  and  in turn, this reduces the  total  energy  requirement by up to  35% which is a win, win  situation for the environment.”

Flavour Fresh is expecting an increase in yield of its tomato crop using the LED technology by around 30%.

“APS Salads and Flavour Fresh are a testament to how 100% LED light can bring reliability of yield and taste all year round in growing fruit and vegetables. This removes the black cloud of unpredictable weather throughout the seasons that can have a dramatic impact on the bottom line of a grower’s business,” added Udo van Slooten, business leader for Philips Lighting’s Horticulture business.

A man holding a box of Flavourfresh tomatos and a trophy. 
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