Scientists have found a way to grow wheat twice as fast as normal, making a contribution to feeding the world's rapidly growing population.
According to Dr Brande Wulff, who led the research team, it usually takes four to five months for a crop to grow from seed to harvest. By contrast, the team used specially engineered LED plant grow lights to grow crops in just eight weeks. At the John Innes Centre plant research Centre in Norwich, England, the team spent 22 hours a day irradiating plants and providing a rich nutrient solution. But even so, they want to try to use more energy-efficient farming techniques than standard LABS.
Dr Wulff said: "we urgently need to develop crops that can better adapt to the future climate and race against time to produce better crops. These new crops will be affordable, nutrient-rich and higher-yielding varieties to help feed the world's growing population.
These crops are also known to be larger and healthier than those under normal growth conditions. The researchers mainly used LED plant grow lights to emit the blue and red light needed for photosynthesis. Most laboratories and greenhouses use sodium vapor lamps similar to street lamps.
Dr Wulff points out that most of the yellow and green light emitted by the sodium vapor lamp is not needed for plant growth, and LED lights can provide the light needed for photosynthesis.
However, the team's "fast growing" technology cannot be applied to farms because it is impractical to illuminate large farms at night. But Dr Wulff said the results could accelerate the progress of crop research and produce crops with better adaptability, better nutrition and less chemicals.
In addition, the team is trying to grow six generations of barley, peas and chickpeas within a year.