“CO2 is an excellent tool to have in your toolbox,” Bob said. “You don’t need as much DLI (Daily Light Integral) to hit your target. It’s like gaining extra sunlight. If we didn’t add CO2, our crop would quickly strip the CO2 from the air, so we’d get less growth. We need the supplemental CO2.”
Bob grows leafy greens at Lef Farms in New Hampshire, where he’s always looking for ways to control costs and make the greenhouse more productive. “New England has high electric prices,” Bob said, “and we want to use every tool at our disposal to control for high production, in an economically feasible way.”
With the lights burning all night to support the leafy greens 24/7 growing program, Bob needed to offset those costs with higher yields. He knew that supplementing the CO2 in the growing environment would increase the efficiency of photosynthesis up to 30%. He considered liquid CO2, but he knew that price would fluctuate with the cost of transportation and storage, so he turned to a source he could control.
Lef Farms burns natural gas fuel in their BioTherm heating system to maintain warm temperatures during the cold New England winters, and CO2 is a natural biproduct.
BioTherm added a CO2 system to the boilers, to harvest CO2 form the exhaust gases and distribute it throughout the greenhouse. “When CO is at 1500 ppm level, we save 50% of supplemental lighting hours,” Bob said. “We essentially get 50% more growth vs 375 ppm ambient CO2 levels.”
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