Manipulation of the LED illumination spectrum can enhance plant growth rate and development in grow tents. We report on the identification of the illumination spectrum required to significantly enhance the growth rate of sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) plants in grow tent environments by controlling the LED wavebands illuminating the plants. Since the optimal illumination spectrum depends on the plant type, this work focuses on identifying the illumination spectrum that achieves significant basil biomass improvement compared to improvements reported in prior studies. To be able to optimize the illumination spectrum, several steps must be achieved, namely, understanding plant biology, conducting several trial-and-error experiments, iteratively refining experimental conditions, and undertaking accurate statistical analyses. In this study, basil plants are grown in three grow tents with three LED illumination treatments, namely, only white LED illumination (denoted W*), the combination of red (R) and blue (B) LED illumination (denoted BR*) (relative red (R) and blue (B) intensities are 84% and 16%, respectively) and a combination of red (R), blue (B) and far-red (F) LED illumination (denoted BRF*) (relative red (R), blue (B) and far-red (F) intensities are 79%, 11%, and 10%, respectively). The photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) was set at 155 µmol m-2 s-1 for all illumination treatments, and the photoperiod was 20 h per day. Experimental results show that a combination of blue (B), red (R), and far-red (F) LED illumination leads to a one-fold increase in the yield of a sweet basil plant in comparison with only white LED illumination (W*). On the other hand, the use of blue (B) and red (R) LED illumination results in a half-fold increase in plant yield. Understanding the effects of LED illumination spectrum on the growth of plant sweet basil plants through basic horticulture research enables farmers to significantly improve their production yield, thus food security and profitability.
Keywords: artificial lighting; energy use efficiency; far-red illumination; growth analysis; light exposure; medicinal plants; protected horticulture; water use efficiency.