A 20,000-square-metre artwork that sees coloured lights appear to dance over a field at night is said to encourage crop growth – and is highlighting the importance of innovation in creating sustainable agriculture.
Dutch artist and innovator Daan Roosegaarde’s GROW project is inspired by photobiology light science technologies, which indicate that certain combinations of blue, red and ultraviolet (UV) light can enhance plant growth and may reduce the use of pesticides by up to 50%.
GROW, which was developed with partners Wageningen University and Rabobank, is trialling its vertical ‘light recipe’ across an enormous field of leek at Lelystad in the Netherlands. The country is one of the world’s largest agricultural producers, exporting €65 billion ($78.8 billion) of fruit, flowers, vegetables, meat and dairy products each year.
Specialized LEDs are commonly used to grow crops in greenhouses and are increasingly seen in ‘vertical farms’ in cities. However, scientists believe there may also be potential for using LEDs in more traditional and rural settings.
The solar-powered LEDs augment the light plants normally receive during the day. Roosegaarde’s project is also investigating whether brief exposure to some wavelengths of UV light could reduce the need for pesticides.
“A specific ultraviolet light activates the defence system of plants,” Roosegaarde told Dezeen. “And what is interesting is that it works on all crops. So we can reduce the use of pesticides.”
Roosegaarde’s eventual goal is to take the artwork on tour to 40 different countries, with each featuring a local or national crop and tailored light recipe.
Studio Roosegaarde aims to create “landscapes of the future” and a previous project saw the artist/innovator turn a health hazard into a thing of beauty.
The Smog Free Project consists of a seven-metre-tall tower that sucks up polluted air and cleans it at nano level, before converting the carbon into diamonds.
Sustainable food and agriculture is key to meeting all four pillars of food security – availability, access, utilization and stability, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
The FAO has highlighted 20 actions countries and stakeholders need to take immediately to combat global food insecurity, including connecting smallholders to markets, protecting water supplies, empowering people and fighting inequality.
The article was first published on the World Economic Forum.