Groupe Savoura is participating in a technology flagship project aimed at testing a dynamic LED lighting system, unique to Sollum Technologies, for year-round strawberry production in greenhouses.
The production of strawberries in greenhouses under lighting is relatively new. The goal of the project is to see how this process can make up for the lack of natural light in winter or on cloudy or rainy days, explains Kassim Tremblay, Vice President, Business Development at Sollum Technologies.
Mr. Tremblay explains that this technology makes it possible to adjust the lighting to achieve the right light spectrum and intensity depending on the variety and growth stage. Each zone, he says, benefits from automatic dimming of an unlimited number of light recipes. “LED lighting compensates when the sun disappears or when its intensity is insufficient to sustain a photoperiod of around 16 hours,” continues Kassim Tremblay.
Savoura Group President and Chief Operating Officer Richard Dorval adds that lighting greenhouses with a traditional system of high pressure sodium (HPS) lamps releases more heat than LED technology, limiting its use as this excess heat is used by strawberry plants can be harmful. The LED system therefore enables longer additional lighting in production and protects it from the effects of heat.
Doubling of the production area
According to Mr Dorval, Savoura has doubled its production area in recent months from 3 to 6 hectares of strawberries in its two greenhouses in Danville in the Eastern Townships. The company, he says, has invested $3 million to remodel the greenhouses, including adding LED lights. Quebec provided Sollum with $350,000 in financial support for this flagship technology project.
A few weeks ago, the production of strawberries using the LED process began on a quarter of the greenhouse cultivation area, reports Richard Dorval. He hopes that when the time comes to take stock of this project, yields and quality will be in place, which would allow this technology to be extended to all production.
By increasing production capacity for quality winter strawberries in Quebec, we are reducing imports of strawberries from California, which are much less palatable, adds Mr. Tremblay.
Economy, Innovation and Energy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon believes Quebec needs innovation to ensure its year-round food self-sufficiency. “Sollum and Savoura are outstanding in their project to increase and extend strawberry production while ensuring better energy use,” he said.
“By sharing this research, we will provide a very useful example to others in the industry of how growers can benefit from dynamic lighting when it comes to improving quality and yield and maximizing profits,” said Kassim Tremblay.
Sollum used LED technology for the first time on winter pepper and tomato. “Each production has a different lighting protocol,” he says. Therefore, an adaptation to the type of production is required.