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2019.05.31 17:00

Can light replace pesticides? – scientists in Lithuania are trying to find out

Due to a widespread use of pesticides in the EU, pathogens in vegetables are developing resistance, which might have devastating effects on health of people and plants. Lithuanian scientists are working on an alternative – using light.

Dr Neringa Rasiukevičiūtė from the Lithuanian Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry says that LED light has properties that can not only extend cultivation periods, but also replace chemicals in fighting plant diseases.

“Pathogen resistance to chemical fungicides is becoming an increasing problem in plants,” says Rasiukevičiūtė. ”At the moment, biological plant-protection products is very small, so it’s crucial to look for new methods that are harmless to the plants’ environment”.

One of the ways to destroy pathogens, according to Rasiukevičiūtė, is to use light technologies.

“Depending on the light wavelength, fungi infections can be stimulated or suppressed.”

Scientists have found that blue, red and yellow light can help suppress fungi growth, says Rasiukevičiūtė.

“We are currently investigating LED light effects on strawberry pathogens,” says Rasiukevičiūtė. The aim is to find innovative ways to “protect plants without negative effects on agro-environment and people’s health”.

There is an increasing number of commercial LED lights for plant growing, “using light to protect vegetables from illnesses” should be left to scientists, says Rasiukevičiūtė.