When Art and Science Meet, Researchers Yield a Better Crop

In the Netherlands, dancing lights from photobiology provide dazzling results!

Feb 14, 2021
When Art and Science Meet, Researchers Yield a Better Crop | In the Netherlands, dancing lights from photobiology provide dazzling results!

Come evening in the Netherlands, lights dance across a farm and create a dreamy landscape. Here, in a field inspired by beauty and infused with photobiology, art intersects with agriculture. Yet, there is more than meets the eye; these glowing lights also provide a higher yield and a more sustainable crop.

This magical field is part of a project called GROW and was created by Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde from Studio Roosegaarde. This designer, himself an urbanite, had a desire to connect people to the source of their food in an inspiring way.

“How can we make the farmer the hero? We barely know where our food comes from,” Roosengarde said in the video describing the project.

His vision was to combine science and art, and in so doing, create a better world. Yearning to offer the world light in dark times, he set to work in a 5-acre field of leeks, as explained on the Roosegaarde site. He tapped into his own design savvy alongside artists, a team of designers, and experts at the Wageningen University, according to a press release

Utilizing the science of photobiology, the group discovered that certain mixes of red, blue, and ultraviolet lights stimulate plant growth and resilience. The team then positioned high-density LEDs in different places across the field, according to Dezeen.

These lights move up and down in order to ensure the light is evenly distributed across the area. And when these lights move at night, they seem to dance, creating a poetic dreamscape. “It's very futuristic and also very romantic, in a way,” Roosegaarde explained to Dezeen.

Aside from being beautiful and stimulating growth, the team observed that due to these lights, they needed to use 50 percent less pesticides on the crop. This is because this specific recipe of lights activated the defense system of the plants. And as it works on all crops, not just leeks, Roosegaarde foresees a way to reduce the use of pesticides on many other plants.

It is no surprise that this agrotech is Dutch. Despite the fact that  the Netherlands is a tiny, densely populated country, it is the world’s second largest exporter of food in value, according to National Geographic. For twenty years, the country has been committed to practicing sustainable agriculture, investing in agricultural start-ups as well as precision farming.

GROW is yet another beautiful example of how the Dutch are taking sustainable farming to the next level. Roosegarde’s project will soon be touring 40 countries, sending its dancing lights across the world, according to the press release.

By imbuing a new meaning to the word “agri-culture,” they are recreating a field into a living, cultural artwork. This combination of art and science is helping plants, improving farming, and sending lights of hope to all.

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NICOLE NATHAN BEM, CONTRIBUTOR
Nicole is an editor, blogger and author who has recently left her urban life in order to be more connected with nature. In her spare time, she’s outdoors hiking in the forest, mountain biking or tending to her new permaculture garden.