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Growing strawberries all year long? That is quite a challenge in the Netherlands. However, not if Parus has anything to say about it. During the IPM tradeshow in Essen, this producer of LED grow lights made growers jealous by showing off blossoming strawberry plants. This was made possible with their latest innovation: water-cooled LED grow lights designed specifically for strawberries. Because of the small size of the lights, you can easily stack four layers of coconut substrate on top of each other!

Dead of winter, blossoming strawberry plants

Anyone brave enough to attempt to grow strawberries during the Dutch winters will know how difficult it is to achieve the right lighting conditions – and that is without considering the energy requirements. “Because of the lighting you need, you can usually only grow plants on a single level,” says Sandro van Kouteren of Parus. It is the dead of winter, yet he is standing next to a rack with four layers of wonderfully blossoming strawberry plants, illuminated by the latest generation of LED grow lights.

The colour spectrum of the Sun

Red, blue and far-red. Strawberry plants filter different colours out of sunlight depending on their growth stage. “We managed to simulate that exact colour spectrum with the right ratios. These lights, which are designed specifically for strawberries, adjust this ratio as the plants grow,” Sandro explains. “Another advantage is that the LEDs are water-cooled. A circular water system turns water into warm air that can be reused, e.g. to heat the greenhouse. Because the lights are so small, you can add several layers of coconut substrate right on top of each other.”

Strawberries on the moon?

Are the lights already available to Dutch strawberry farmers? “Not yet, we are still in the experimental stage at the moment,” Sandro says. “The first demonstration hectare in Russia was so successful that we have now installed our LEDs above ten hectares of strawberry plants. With these water-cooled grow lights, the lighting conditions and the temperature can be controlled, meaning growers will no longer depend on the weather. This makes it possible to accurately predict your yield in advance.” It is no surprise that an aerospace organisation also showed an interest in Parus’s invention. “This organisation is examining whether our LED lighting can be used to grow plants in a sealed space without oxygen or gravity. This allows them to explore opportunities for new living environments, e.g. the Moon or Mars.”

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