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Dr. Erik Runkle

Professor, Michigan State University


Lighting in vertical farms to produce crops with high-quality attributes

In vertical farming, electric lighting has a profound impact on crop yield as well as a variety of plant growth attributes, including leaf size, stem length, leaf coloration, phytonutrient concentration, and even taste.  Four dimensions of lighting need to be considered when growing plants in indoors: intensity, duration, quality, and uniformity.  Dr. Runkle will explain these attributes and discuss research that is elucidating the effects that various wavebands have on plant growth.  Additional considerations such as lamp cost and efficacy will also be briefly presented.


Erik Runkle Ph.D, is a Professor and Extension Specialist in the Department of Horticulture at Michigan State University.  Erik obtained a B.S. in Ornamental Horticulture from the University of Illinois and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Horticulture at Michigan State University. 

Since he joined the faculty in 2001, he and his graduate research team have performed numerous practical experiments in controlled environments to determine the effects of light, temperature, and other environmental factors on plant growth and development.  Experiments have been performed on a wide range of herbaceous specialty crops including leafy greens and ornamentals.  

Erik recently developed the Controlled-Environment Lighting Laboratory to better understand how the light spectrum can be manipulated to produce crops with desired attributes.  To date, he has co-edited 6 books and authored 14 book chapters, nearly 100 papers in scientific journals, and over 250 articles in trade magazines.