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Growing Hope: Covering Crops in Red Plastic can Increase Yields by up to 37%

A simple, low-cost technique could assist to increase food output and even allow crops to be grown in different locations to reduce food miles.

Shivani Meena
Crops covered in red plastic yield more produce
Crops covered in red plastic yield more produce

Humans have used greenhouses for generations to help plants thrive outside of tolerable settings. As it turns out, rather than greenhouses, we might be better off building red houses. The red spectrum of light encourages plant leaves to generate more chlorophyll, and an Australian agricultural start-up is using this fundamental science to make thick red films to cover greenhouses to improve plant productivity beyond what the sunlight or greenhouses are capable of. 

Luminescent-Light Emitting Agriculture Films: A hope to increase Agriculture Yield 

LLEAF, or Luminescent-Light Emitting Agriculture Films, was developed by scientists from the Universities of New South Wales and Western Sydney. 

They manufacture and are now testing numerous various films to boost agricultural yields, each customized to a particular type of plant. 

"Our luminescent light-emitting agricultural film, LLEAF," says company co-founder Dr. Alex Soeriyadi, "is meant to 'supercharge' natural sunlight by transforming the natural light into a light spectrum that is more favorable for plant development." "Our studies show that there is potential to boost output, better plant cycle, and harvest management." 

A Closer look at Red spectrum lights and Film components 

LLEAF 620 is a low-red spectrum light that boosts photosynthesis and increases output in most plants, however, LLEAF 590 is the ideal choice for aquatic plants where light penetration through water is necessary for enhanced growth rate. 

Far-red spectrum light is better for fruiting trees and flowers, hence LLEAF supplies two separate films, one for production and one for growth, that reach the 700-nanometer range of the light spectrum. 

The films are constructed of unique dyes that absorb and scatter photons from the green spectrum of light before re-emitting them as a red light to boost plant photosynthesis. 

An effective and sustainable approach  

They reduce the amount of light that the plants cannot utilize, and they diffuse the light that they can use more uniformly and in a way that reduces shadows. 

The plastics are incredibly resilient and may be readily adapted to any existing greenhouse structure. 

The dyes are completely biodegradable and carbon-based, with no metals, and the plastic sheeting is completely recyclable. 

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