Rare earth light source boosts vegetable growth

Updated: Jun 6, 2019 By Lu Wei subsites.chinadaily.com.cn/innermongolia/baotou/ Print

Cutting edge lighting using rare earth elements is being utilized -- in an artificial climate laboratory operated by the Baotou Rare Earth Research and Development Center in the Chinese Academy of Sciences -- to boost the growth of fruit and vegetables, according to a local media.

All the light sources in the laboratory are artificial light sources, excluding natural light.

“We perform extreme value tests under pure artificial light sources to observe the growth of different plants under various light sources,” explained Zhang Tong, a staff member at the laboratory.

Since the rare earth light source is used in the planting process, the shape and taste of the fruit and vegetables grown in the laboratory are said to have improved. The 13 varieties of fruit and vegetables that are common in North China -- such as cabbage, parsley, baby carrot and cherry tomato -- appear to be full of vitality, according to researchers.

During the nursery process, the rare earth light can make the seedling stems thick and the leaves rich, improving the immunity and disease resistance of the seedlings, and improving the seedling rate.

According to the laboratory, its research is currently focused on two main aspects.

“One is the specific fill time of different vegetable varieties, and the other is that the absorption rate of each plant is different, so we need to effectively screen the spectrum, select the plant's favorite spectral ratio, and improve its absorption and utilization of light energy,” Zhang said.

“Finally, we equilibrate the most appropriate spectrum for optimal illumination time, to create an optimal light environment for plants.”

The fruits and vegetables bathed in the special light do not need pesticides and fertilizers, so they are healthier, more ecological, and have higher quality and good taste, researchers say. They named the products from the process "baby fruit and vegetables" because they consider them as safe food for babies.

Currently there are three teams focusing on the project, which employs a total of 10 researchers in all.

Among them, Zhang Tong and two other colleagues are responsible for crop cultivation and light source screening.

In addition, there is a rare earth light source equipment team and a fruit and vegetable production team. Zhang Tong is the chief technical official of the project.

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Qin Xinmiao, a project leader at Baotou Zhongke Ruifeng Technology Co, records the growth of fruits and vegetables exposed to light utilizing rare earth elements. [Photo/Baotou Daily]

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A wide variety of fruit and vegetables are being grown in the laboratory. [Photo/Baotou Daily]

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