The Optimisation of cultivation conditions for Basil (Ocimum sp. L) production in multi-tier hydroponics and the role of light quality in the enhancement of growth and quality
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Basil (Ocimum sp. L.) is considered an important herb in Herbalism, Agronomy, Ethnobotany, Gastronomy, and Bromatology. Increases in population have led to an increase in the demands for food including Basil and thus there is an increased need to optimise its growing conditions in order to produce acceptable plants for the consumers. This optimization includes growing Basil in indoor farming situations. Basil contains essential oils which impart many of its herbal and culinary properties and whilst the chemical composition of the essential oil of Basil varied but commonly contains, Estragole, Linalool, Eugenol, E Cinnamate and Eucalyptol. Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) have a strong potential to enhance the growth and quality of Basil in indoor farming and might propose a general recipe for light conditions for the production of other herbs if optimised. LEDs with specific light quality; Blue 435 nm/Red 663 nm, with a ratio of 1.6 Blue light: 1 Red light, and supplying 300 µmol m−2 s−1 light intensity, promoted better yield and growth when used in a multi-layered hydroponic cultivation system compared to glasshouse grown plants. Sweet and Bush grown under LED arrays promoted better growth and quality compared plants grown under HPS lamps. Furthermore, the chemical composition of essential oil of Basil was altered (mainly Eugenol and Linalool) by light quality regulation. A combination of Blue and Red light promoted a higher yield and better quality of Basil essential oil. It was concluded that the growth and quality of Basil plants can be best controlled in a Plant Factory unit but the LED arrays for better growth still need to be optimised.