Skip to content

Harvesting Innovation: Research and Development at Kroptek

Initially founded in 2017 as a research-driven LED grow lights company focused on studying the benefits of broad-spectrum LEDs, Kroptek has since expanded its portfolio to a range of activities.

From building a network of sustainable urban farms in three countries, developing bespoke lighting solutions for commercial projects, and providing horticultural advisory services to some of the most ambitious indoor farming projects across the globe.

Despite its increased portfolio and increased business demand Kroptek has remained true to its R&D roots and continues to engage in several high-profile research ventures across a number of projects and countries.

Our Research Background

Only recently have LED lighting fixtures for supplemental and top-lighting applications become commercially feasible. Previously, indoor farms and glasshouses relied on HPS lights. With the development of affordable Red / Blue LEDs in the mid-2010s, however, LEDs soon earned a reputation as a cost-efficient solution for any grower and became the most economical and effective lighting source for growing plants.

Increased research, like that undertaken by Kroptek, highlighted that whilst plants may only need Red / Blue for photosynthesis the other wavelengths do still affect a plant’s growth.

We found that using a broad spectrum can lead to…

  • Improved growth rates
  • Better shape
  • Better flavour
  • Increased yields
  • Better resilience to pests and disease

Being able to control a broader spectrum composition means you can tailor your spectra to the various stages of a plant’s growth. LED lighting, therefore, allows you to use white or blue light for earlier development stages and then transition to the red side of the spectrum for maturing plants.

Such research anticipated advances in LED technology, such as phosphorous coatings, making broad spectrums at once affordable and proven in their ability to optimise a plant’s growth.

Berry Gardens – Researching Strawberries

One area, that has become an area of expertise for Kroptek, has been growing strawberries in a controlled environment. Kroptek continues to collaborate on research into the benefits of broad-spectrum LEDs but has also expanded its scope from light-based research to research on the impacts on certain cultivars grown in controlled environments.

In 2018 Kroptek partnered with Berry Gardens on a joint project to convert a refrigerated shipping container into an indoor strawberry growing unit, the first of its kind in the UK.

Berry Gardens has an extensive R&D programme developing technologies involved in the production, varietal research as well as environmentally responsible farming and non-pesticidal treatments of pests and disease.

The project successfully researched methods of growing strawberries indoors given a set of organoleptic, technical, and commercial targets and continues to operate to this day.

Collaboration in food waste management

In 2022, Kroptek signed a partnership with an exciting Paris-based start-up, Upcycle, that designs and produces container-based food waste recycling solutions.

Together, under the Kropcycle banner, Kroptek and Upcycle are developing several infrastructural projects aimed at developing commercially feasible recycling operations at a commercial scale.

Helping to avoid the abundance of food waste generated that otherwise finds its way into incinerators and instead helps it on its way to giving back to the environment by producing high-quality compost.

InnovateUK – Researching Photovoltaics

At the beginning of 2022, Kroptek took part in the Smart Greens project and won an InnovateUK grant

In partnership with the University of Nottingham, the project aims to develop photovoltaic panels, electricity-generating transparent glass, for use in a glasshouse.

Employing a practice known as photovoltaics, plants are grown under translucent solar energy panels, combining renewable energy with traditional glasshouse farming. Growing crops under these panels has the dual benefit of growing plants in a controlled environment whilst also generating renewable solar energy.

Universities and PhD students

Researchers and academic partners also continue to turn to Kroptek for their lighting needs because they need consistent results from proven technology.

Kroptek collaborates with many universities, research facilities, and individual PhD students on horticultural and LED research.

For example, the National Plant Phenomics Centre in Aberystwyth in Wales chose Kroptek to replace the HPS lights in their grow rooms. Renowned worldwide for working with academic and industrial partners, the NPCC conducts research into a range of horticultural areas.

Using Kroptek LEDs, NPCC undertook a like-for-like replacement of their HPS lights leading to a 50% reduction in their energy bills whilst increasing their research capacity into the use of LEDs with horticultural applications.

Further Collaboration

Kroptek’s R&D initiatives sit alongside its other activities to make commercial solutions in the agricultural technology sector both accessible and profitable.

If you’re interested in how Kroptek can support your research endeavours, get in touch with one of our representatives today.