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+9-13% Boost in Red Romaine Lettuce Trial

AT A GLANCE

Results altogether point to enhanced productivity in a red romaine lettuce cultivar, as measured by dry mass, fresh mass, total leaf area, and light-use efficiency.

108 plants of Outredgeous’ Red Romaine Lettuce.

The University of Arizona Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (UA-CEAC) This work was independently performed by Biosystems Engineering professor Dr. Gene Giacomelli and UA student Charles Parrish for a NASA STTR Phase I Grant to improve crop productivity in the Mars-Lunar Greenhouse (MLGH) prototype.

Los Alamos, NM, USA.

Lettuce Crop

Within each module, ‘Outredgeous’ red romaine lettuce plants were grown hydroponically in deep-water culture in 3.8 cm (1.5 in.) rockwool cubes at a planting density of 55 plants m−2 (5 plants ft−2). The plants were fertigated with a shared, recirculating hydroponic nutrient solution of modified Hoagland’s with pH of 6.1-6.2 and EC of 1.8-1.9 mS cm−1. Sole-source electrical metal-halide lamps were installed above the films to mimic the solar spectrum and provided a uniform light intensity within each module. The lighting regime at plant canopy consisted of a PPFD of ~380 μmol m−2 s−1 and a photoperiod of 14 h/d after germination at 3 DAS, resulting in a daily light integral (DLI) of 17 mol m−2 d−1. The plants were grown at 24/20 °C day/night temperatures with ambient relative humidity and CO2 for 28 days after sowing (DAS). Controlling for all these variables, spectral quality under each film was the only difference in treatment.

This experimental series included three repeated experiments. Guard rows were planted surrounding all 12 data plants per group per experiment to prevent edge effects from contaminating the data, and results from the 36 data plants per group total were collated and compared. Edible fresh and dry masses as well as total leaf area were measured at the time of harvest (28 DAS), and the results are shown below.

Outliers (+/- 3 standard deviations) were removed from the dataset, and the effect sizes of each metric were calculated to assess the treatment efficacy regardless of variation between experimental repeats. Thus, while the data shows the error bars overlapping between treatments, the results were indeed statistically significantly different. In addition to providing overall average boost in fresh mass, dry mass, and total leaf area, both QD films provided much greater light-use efficiency (LUE, g mol-1) than the Control film as indicated in the table below. Calculated LUE captures the amount of edible biomass produced per light input, so even if light inputs were different, this measure enables direct comparison between treatments. As seen below, the LUE was considerably greater under both QD films than under the Control.

Lettuce Biomass

Table

Percentage differences of calculated lighting-use efficiency (LUE) of O-QD and R-QD Films compared with Control on dry mass and fresh mass bases. In summary, these results altogether point to enhanced productivity in a red romaine lettuce cultivar, as measured by dry mass, fresh mass, total leaf area, and light-use efficiency. By installing QD films within a greenhouse, the solar spectrum can be optimized to provide greater photosynthetic efficiency and thus greater productivity (either by reducing the time required to marketable size or by increasing the mass and area of marketable crops by a grower’s regularly scheduled harvest time).

To access the free, open-access publication for further information about this study and the results, please visit https://www.nature.com/articles/s42003-020-01646-1.

Acknowledgement

The authors thank California Grow Films for donating the Orca Grow Film used for the module walls and floors and thank Grodan for donating the rockwool cubes used for the root substrates.

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Hunter McDaniel CEO & Founder UbiGro

Hunter McDaniel, PhD

Founder & CEO

 Hunter earned a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, before joining Los Alamos National Laboratory in the Chemistry Division. Ultimately the value proposition of UbiGro is about boosting crop yields and quality without the cost or energy impact of lighting. Hunter has more than fifty publications and patents, and more than 2000 total citations, h-index: 20. Hunter fundamentally believes that novel materials underpin every significant technology advancement, and he is focused on leveraging new materials to have a lasting and sustainable impact.

Damon Hebert, PhD

Director of Agriculture

Damon brings a wide range of experience in agriculture, materials science, spectroscopy, and small business. During his time in Prof. Angus Rockett’s research group at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), Hebert authored a doctoral thesis and multiple papers on the materials science of CIGS semiconductor materials, which is closely related to the materials developed at UbiQD. He also served as a consultant to Nanosolar, a CIGS nanocrystal solar cell manufacturing company. Hebert has industry experience having co-founded Dr. Jolly’s, a leading cultivation and distribution operation in Bend, OR.

Tania Lafaille

Sales Representative

Tania is a UbiGro Sales Representative, with over 7 years of experience in product sales (specifically berries and avocados) covering all of North America and parts of South America. While in agriculture, Tania has cultivated strong relationships with growers and distributors, granting her a unique insight into both perspectives. That understanding, paired with her fierce dedication to results, drives her fun and fiery commitment to her craft. Tania is based in Gilroy, CA.

Charles Parrish

Agricultural  Engineer

Charles earned a Bachelor’s in Biological Engineering from North Carolina State University and a Master’s in Biosystems Engineering from The University of Arizona Controlled Environment Agriculture Center. Advised by Dr. Gene Giacomelli, Charles conducted his thesis on the “Optimization of Spectral Quality with Quantum Dots to Enhance Crop Yield in Controlled Environments.” Charles has a decade of biological engineering, greenhouse technology, and molecular biology experience from lab to production scale including working with the Vegetable Production System (Veggie) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. He brings his experience in hydroponics, controlled environment systems design, photobiology, greenhouse engineering, and scientific outreach.

Jim Gideon

Sales Manager

Jim Gideon is an UbiGro Sales Manager, with over 25 years of greenhouse industry sales experience covering all of North America. Previously Jim has worked for Green Tek, Plazit-Polygal, Texel, Cherry Creek, and Nexus. He is based in Montgomery, AL, and Jim believes that “light is everything to the grower.”

Eric Moody

Director of Sales

Eric Moody is UbiQD’s Director of UbiGro Sales. Eric has more than 6 years of experience in horticulture lighting industry, building relationships with greenhouse growers of all sizes and crops on optimal lighting for their growing operation, and most recently managed a North American sales team for PL Light Systems. Overall, Eric has been in sales leadership positions for more than 13 years. Eric brings with him a great understanding of the market and available technologies for growers, greenhouse facilities, and sales leadership.

Mike Burrows, PhD

VP of Business Development

Dr. Michael Burrows is UbiQd’s Vice President of Business Development. His educational background includes a Materials Science doctorate from the University of Delaware and an MBA from Duke University Fuqua School of Business. His career has specialized in the commercialization of novel electronic materials in venture-run programs for different industries including solar, biosensors, and the automotive industry. In both start-up and corporate environments, he has extensive experience in global market development, foraging supply chain partnerships, productization, and brand building. He is currently leading UbiQD’s partnership efforts in luminescent greenhouse technology, smart windows, and security ventures.

Matt Bergern, PhD

Cheif Product Officer

As Chief Product Officer at UbiQD, Dr. Matt Bergren leads the company’s product development efforts, sales, and product manufacturing, including the company’s first commercial agriculture product, UbiGro. He plays a critical role in continuing the company’s path of technology development and vision of powering product innovations in agriculture, clean energy, and security.

He serves as the principal investigator for UbiQD’s contract with NASA, focused on tailoring the solar spectrum for enhanced crop production for space missions. Dr. Bergren’s leadership experience includes serving on the board of directors for the New Mexico Energy Manufacturing Institute, focused on job creation in New Mexico’s energy, and related manufacturing community.