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Grow with…
Abhay Thosar

 

 

 

Grow with…Abhay Thosar

 

 

Philips Horticulture’s plant specialists are some of the best partners a grower can have when it comes to using LED lighting in artificially lit cultivation. In each newsletter one of them talks about developments and experiences in the field. This time it is Abhay Thosar’s turn, and he tells us about the growing popularity of city farming in North America and the revolution being brought about by the use of LEDs.

 

“I’ve been with Philips for a year now, and I really feel at home here. I like doing practical work and I enjoy the excitement and variation of any project that involves pioneering work. At the moment, for instance, I’m working on several vertical cultivation facilities for leafy vegetables and herbs, helping to pave the way to a future of city farming. I predict that five years from now many large cities in America and Canada will have their own city farms. A great example of this is Green Sense Farms close to Chicago, one of the world’s first large city farms. These developments will greatly affect the reduction in carbon foot print as well as support for local food production. They’re looking for tried-and-tested methods and reliable data. My grandfather was a farmer, so I’m fully aware of how vulnerable a harvest is and what effect incorrect investment can have on operating profit and a grower’s competitiveness.

As a plant specialist I bridge the gap between the developments that take place at Philips and their application according to businesses’ practical needs. Sometimes growers don’t immediately understand why we’re suddenly talking about different types of lighting, and I can explain and substantiate that sort of things. Working with nature makes an entrepreneur very aware of risks, and because of my family history that’s also embedded in my DNA. My father once taught me that it would be smart for me to specialize in plants and vegetables, since they’re irreplaceable and not-renewable. You grow something, it gets consumed and then it’s gone. You’re constantly involved in optimizing this loop, and as long as there are people there’ll be demand.”
“Plant physiology is the basis. It enables you to affect outcomes, but also explains why certain things work in a way that every farmer or grower accepts and understands. It’s the universal language of the horticulturalist. I remember how it felt the first time I saw the results that had been achieved with LEDs during a project. Although I could see with the naked eye how much greener the plants were and how much heavier the fruits were, when I looked at the official measurements the differences were so massive that I would never have believed it if I hadn’t seen the evidence with my own eyes. It was a shock. That’s why it’s so interesting to work with growers and to search for ways to discover the optimal matches on their unique farm with their specific crop.
The growers achieve results that they can scarcely believe are correct and that have other qualitative advantages in addition to an improved harvest. For example, winter is the top season for cultivating, and thanks to the use of our LEDs the growth of the plants can be optimized and the growers can get the best pricing for the produce (tomato, cucumber and pepper). The great thing about our work is that we can really make a contribution to a future that neither the growers nor the consumers could have guessed at. And no day is the same as any other. From next fall we’ll be starting several new trials in conjunction with universities and growers. I’m looking forward again to the new challenges and the outcomes that entrepreneurs can turn to their advantage in practical terms. That’s where I want to make the difference.”

Dr. Abhay Thosar
Sr. Plant Specialist
Philips Horticulture LED Solutions

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