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Meet Plant Specialist 

Leontiene van Genuchten

Leontiene van Genuchten is a practical researcher in heart and soul with a dedication to meeting growers’ needs. Since she joined Philips Lighting - Horticulture LED Solutions in 2015 as a Plant Specialist, part of her job was to improve rose cultivation with LED grow lights. She has participated in an intensive collaboration involving commercial projects and research trials with rose growers and researchers at Wageningen University (WUR) and the Delphy Improvement Centre.

Trial and error

 

Leontiene’s work at Philips Lighting has brought her back to roses, which has been a recurring theme in her career. After receiving her B.S. in Horticulture, one of Leontiene’s first jobs was as a junior researcher for growing roses. She went on to work as a technical specialist at BASF and as a researcher at DLV Plant (now called Delphy). Leontiene says, “I like to come up with ideas and then try them out in a trial to see if they produce the desired result. What motivates me is finding solutions and applications that will help growers improve quality or increase yields.” 

Leontiene van Genuchten

Teaming up to grow the perfect rose

 

Roses are one of the most popular flowers in the world, so it’s no surprise that growers began using LED for rose cultivation as soon as the first LED toplighting modules became available in 2015. That was also the moment that Philips Lighting began participating in a large-scale rose project to develop a new light recipe with a full LED installation to further enhance rose cultivation. The WUR leads this project as well as a multi-year project with roses that is being carried out at the Delphy Improvement Center in Bleiswijk, The Netherlands. Leontiene provides research input and knowledge about Philips Lighting products and how to use them for cultivation for the LED growing trials. Next to the growing trials, she works together with six leading rose growers in the Benelux who have experience using LED lighting in hybrid lighting systems to cultivate diverse varieties of roses.  

Leontiene van Genuchten
The perfect rose

Give and take

 

Leontiene: “The growers have been key in making these trials successful. They judge the crops at different phases and see details that we don’t see. They have helped us improve the quality of the trials and ensure that the results we achieve will be beneficial for their operations.” Philips Lighting cooperates with the ROSE collective, a group of about 30 rose growing companies, consultants, universities, research institutes, and representatives from the Dutch government who are active in developing the rose sector. Their input also contributes to new LED lighting improvements.

Finding the perfect spectrum


Like other crops, roses react differently to LED lighting compared to HPS (high pressure sodium) lights because of the different levels of heat they produce according to Leontiene. “In the summer you get better quality roses with LED because you expose them to less heat. During winter, the light spectrum used can have a big impact on the quality and yields of a crop like roses, because the lights are switched on 20 hours per day. The first winter of full LED research and commercial trials in the Netherlands did result in good production but did not result in the quality improvements of the roses that growers had hoped for with LED. This led to the start of a new trial using different light spectra that were specially selected for cut roses. During this trial, several different light spectra were investigated to select a new LED light recipe that would improve both the quality and the quantity of roses. This is espectially important in the winter period when the plant receives more light from the LED lighting than it does from daylight. 

Interesting and challenging


This project has been very intense, but also very exciting for Leontiene to participate in. Leontiene: “I’ve learned an incredible amount about LED lighting and rose cultivation. It’s the ideal project for me because it’s so challenging. If everything goes well, there’s no reason to dig further. This project, however, challenges me to dig deeper to find the right solution that will meet the growers’ needs and production targets, as well as improve the quality of the crop..”

Eve of a new era


Leontiene: “We are standing on the eve of a technical development that’s very important for the future of rose growers. To meet new environmental regulations, the growers have to use black-out screens more frequently and that affects the climate of the greenhouse. They want to move to LED lighting, but they also need the right LED spectrum to guarantee they can produce the best quality and the best yields. It’s exciting to be part of this development.” Besides roses, Leontiene is also involved in other floriculture crops, including gerbera and other cut flowers, but also potted plants and young seedlings and cuttings. Knowledge obtained in one crop is being used to accelerate the application and optimization of LEDs and their benefits for other crops. At Philips Lighting, Leontiene works with an international team of Plant Specialists. Leontiene: “The diverse knowledge and experience in our team enables us to provide excellent advice and support for growers on how they can best apply LED lighting for their specific crops.” 

Bigger improvements ahead


Leontiene enjoys working at Philips Lighting because she has the freedom and resources to be creative and to team up with colleagues and people from other universities and institutes to learn new things and exchange ideas. “I think LED is a technological development that is necessary to help the horticultural sector save energy and improve the quality and yield of crops so they can continue to thrive. This is just the beginning for cultivating crops with LED lighting and I think we will be making even bigger improvements in the future that we can’t even imagine right now.”
Team van Leontiene van Genuchten