Light and Health Research Center

Light for Plant Health

Light can be used to promote healthy plant growth in controlled environments and in field applications. Visible and ultraviolet wavelengths can be used to inhibit plant pathogens and lighting strategies generally can enable growers to extract greater value from their crops. 

The Light and Health Research Center harnesses its expertise in physics and engineering to complement the work of plant health scientists. The goal of the Light for Plant Health program is to develop sustainable disease management solutions using the latest lighting technologies, apply research results in practice for a greater understanding of their applicability, and educate stakeholders on the use of lighting technologies to control plant diseases. 

Research Areas

Beets and Cercospora Leaf Spot

Collaborating with Cornell AgriTech to investigate the use of UV-C to inhibit the pathogen causing Cercospora leaf spot in table beets. Field trial underway summer 2021.

Cucumber downy and powdery mildew

Investigating the use of UV-C to inhibit the pathogens causing downy and powdery mildew in both conventional and organic field grown cucumbers. Field trial underway summer 2021.

Basil downy mildew

Investigating the use of visible wavelengths of light to suppress downy mildew in greenhouse basil.

Strawberry powdery mildew

Collaborating with Cornell University and the University of Florida to investigate the use of UV-C to control powdery mildew on field-grown strawberries. 

Squash powdery mildew

Investigating the most effective UV-C dosing levels and application frequencies for controlling powdery mildew in summer squash. Engineering improvements to improve application efficiency are also being explored. Field trials underway summer 2021, 2022.

Nuckolls Fund will make available curriculum for plant lighting, to be used by education programs.

The Dragon: A mobile UV-C array for the field

Field Days/Conferences
Light and Health Research Center staff cohost on-farm field days showcasing research trials and present research at grower conferences. 

Fighting Plant Diseases with Ultraviolet (UV) Energy
UV energy can increase plant health and productivity and improve the health of soil and aquatic systems by reducing the amount of pesticides introduced into the environment.

Project Sponsors

Light for Plant Health Partner

  • LRx, LLC