Robert Soler: Creating Biologically Matched LED Grow Lights
Prior to working at BIOS, Robert Soler earned a Master of Science degree from the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience from the University of California at San Diego. Robert also helped design and build the lighting system on the International Space Station (ISS). He worked with scientists to use LED lighting for photobiological purposes in space. This included designing a circadian lighting system to synchronize the circadian rhythm of astronauts on board the ISS. Through this experience he gained insight into how LEDs can be used to develop valuable technologies for the cannabis industry.
This interview explains how the BIOS uses biology to understand and create optimized lighting systems, the benefits of growing cannabis under LEDs, and much more!
Ganjapreneur: What is the history of the creation of the BIOS and what led to the decision to develop energy-efficient grow lights for indoor growing?
Robert Soler: I would say the BIOS started in NASA’s Space Life Sciences Lab, where as an engineer I designed lighting technologies for all types of life. There I learned how LED lighting can be used to change plant morphology, give unique seasonal cues, and get the most efficient photosynthetic growth.
The BIOS website states that your products are “naturally designed”. How does the BIOS use plant biology to steer product development?
Instead of incorporating a technology into a biological application, the BIOS studies the biological mechanisms, photobiology and biochemistry and develops a technology based on this fundamental science.
What are some of the benefits of growing cannabis indoors with LED lighting?
The main benefit is consistency. The interior lighting as a whole is more uniform from day to day. Compared to HPS indoors, LED offers the highest uniformity. This is a good sign for the harvest and ensures that no parts of the plant are getting too much light and no parts are getting too little. This results in more even yields and higher post-harvest yields.
Research suggests that LED lighting can increase the biosynthesis of flavonoids in fruits and some plant species. Could these results apply to the sophisticated system of secondary compounds in cannabis flowers?
Absolutely! The spectrum is the key to these secondary connections. A couple of changes to say that the near UV can improve some things while distant reds can improve others. We haven’t tested everything yet, but we can help you with some basics to get there.
How is BIOS lighting different from other LED lighting options on the market?
The BIOS is dedicated to the creator. When developing our products, we think about things from the point of view of the system and the operator. An example of this is our optimized white light spectrum, which offers the optimum photosynthesis yield without compromising the comfort of the staff in the facility. Another example is our industrial-grade appliances, which are designed to pick up and wipe off the dirt and water you might throw on them so you can keep producing. One final example that we’re really proud of is our upcoming Rapid Rack system, which is designed to bring these lights up in record time.
What scope of the indoor grow project goes well with a BIOS system?
I haven’t seen a bad scope of a project. Small ones are good for R&D optimizing spectra and learning more about your product.
What are the most common mistakes cannabis growers make when switching to LED lights after using other indoor lighting systems?
The most common is temperature. The leaf temperature is much cooler under LED light compared to sodium vapor lamps (HPS). This means that you will need to run your air conditioner a few degrees warmer to get the best benefits. The other important one is measuring light. Light intensity is so important to plant growth that few people measure it correctly. They measure in Umol / m2, not in Lux, at the level of the canopy.
How does the BIOS continue to support cultivators who use your products?
The BIOS strives to help our customers throughout the life of our products. We give our customers tips on maintenance and troubleshooting (even if this has nothing to do with the lighting). We also work hand in hand with the growers who deal with optimizing the spectrum. Once this spectrum is completed, we will help you cost-effectively scale this unique spectrum to a full acreage.
Thank you Robert for answering our questions! For more information on Robert Soler’s and BIOS offerings, visit BIOSlighting.com.
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