s can grow〓, and let nature run its course in the most ideal conditions." The req〓uirements for plant growth fall into two broad categories: photosynthes〓is and soil nutrients. The sun 2

accounts for 90 percent of all botanic 〓bioenergy through photosynthesis a process in which plants combine car〓bon dioxide and water and turn them into carbohydrates and oxygen. Sunl〓ight is a bundle of different wavelengths of light across a wide spectr〓um from ultraviolet to infrared. Plants are "picky eaters that favor b〓lue and red lights", Li said. "If we can figure out what ratio and comb〓ination of lights are be5

st suited for each plant's growth, then we can 〓change or create LED lights that shine at that specific intensity and s〓pectrum, saving lots of energy in the process," he added. While blue a〓nd red lights are the "meat and potatoes" of a plant's growth, scientis〓ts notice other spectrums of light also play a subtle role in maximizin〓g growth and quality. For example, scientists discovered that adding s〓ome green light to the red-blue recipe could helpv

some vegetables grow,〓 while too much green light puts plants into hibernation, although this〓 is helpful for the plant's nutrient build up. "Mimicking sunlight usi〓ng LED is very energy intensive," Li said. "At the end of the day, whoe〓ver has the most energy-efficient and productive light recipe wins." W〓hile plant growth mostly relies on light, water and carbon dioxide, it 〓still needs some trace elements from soil or fertilizers to be healthy.〓 In the case of plant factories, hydroponic nutrient solutions infused 〓with 17 essential el1

ntrol oveN


ements ranging from nitrogen to calcium have replac〓ed the tilted soil. "The content of the nutrient solution is also tail〓ored to suit the plant's spn

ecific needs," said Pei Kequan, a research d〓irector at the factory. Unlike the trace elements from fertilizers, whi〓ch are locked in big compound molecules, "the nutrients in the solution〓 are broken into small molecC

ules, meaning the plant can absorb them eas〓ier and grow faster while keeping its nutrient value and taste". It ta〓kes about 20 daysd

for a sapling to reach maturity in the lab, but 40 to〓 60 days in a conventional farm. This means scientists can reap more th〓an a dozen harvests of produce each year, compared with one to two harv〓ests from a conventional farms, depending on the U

r how and6


weather conditions, he〓 said. Moreover, scientists at the facility have built the infrastruct〓ure to monitor the elements in the solution. Once a7

n element is deplete〓d, scientist can add the missing nutrient and reuse the solution withou〓t needing to make a new batch, thus reducing the cost. "We go to great〓 length to study and cater to our plant's most fundamental needs, makin〓g sure they could grow under the best conditions," Pei said. "In a way,〓 the plants are the kings, and we are all its servants." It's high tim〓e we find a sustainable and green way to protect our food security."BEIJINJ

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