I had the pleasure of interviewing Kassim Tremblay, V.P. of Business Development at Sollum Technologies about their approach to smart horticultural lighting for greenhouses and other CEA facilities. They’ve integrated some interesting capabilities.
Shiller: Some readers know that Sollum Technologies is an LED grow light manufacturer. Can you please share what makes Sollum unique in the market? Why your customers choose Sollum?
Tremblay: Sollum does not only manufacture its fully dynamic grow lights, we developed the cloud platform that makes our solution so unique. Our solution is the only fully dynamic horticultural solution on the market. This means that light output (spectra and intensity) is 100% programmable and re-programmable as needed; that it dims automatically in real time based on ambient light readings; and enables multi-zone light management to grow multiple crops simultaneously, each with their own custom light recipe. Additionally, Sollum offers more comprehensive support services than other grow light companies by working directly with producers. Our team of engineers, technicians and agronomists, with our chief horticultural specialist, offer ongoing expert advice and assistance from planting to harvest, in order to ensure that producers get the most out of their lighting solution.
Shiller: Can you explain and share more about SUN as a Service? Is it simply the control software or more than that?
Tremblay: Our multi-channel LED fixture and our SUN as a Service® (SUNaaS™) cloud platform dynamically modulate the full spectrum of the Sun’s natural light cycle with unmatched precision. The platform connects producers to a “plug & play” user interface whose smart algorithms facilitate the management of fixtures. SUNaaS enables an infinite number of light recipes to optimize growth and apply specific treatments. It manages multiple lighting zones and custom recipes in a single greenhouse and provides advanced 24/7 monitoring to perform the recalibration and preventative maintenance of fixtures.
Shiller: What functions and value does AI ad to the Sollum control software?
Tremblay: Sollum’s technology combines the most advanced LEDs with SMART technology. The result of this combination is maximized energy efficiency for growers. LEDs are the most energy efficient horticultural lights available, but Sollum’s grow lights provide the added benefit of having a variable light output that produces additional energy savings by reducing fixture intensity when sunlight is available. Sensors deployed in the greenhouse collect ambient light data, which an AI functionality uses to consistently deliver optimal spectrum and intensity output for crops, which in turns provides optimal efficiency for growers and the environment. These advance controls also allow the growers to receive additional subsidies from their electrical utility provider.
Shiller: How do the indoor growers typical utilize the multiple zone feature?
Tremblay: The multi-zone light management is mainly used to adapt lighting strategies to the needs of the different cultivars. For example, some varieties will be more generative and will require a lighting strategy with vegetative action. Another case would be morphological control, some varieties tend to elongate more than others and require higher blue levels to control their stretching.
Furthermore, with multi-zone light management, growers can evaluate the impact of different light recipes on produce before full-scale cultivation without the services of outside partners. Our team of agronomists and technicians will support growers throughout the process and results will be observed on site, in real conditions and much faster, while normal production resumes in other parts of the greenhouse.
Finally, this feature also allows the growers to create buffer zones along the greenhouse walls that tend to receive less natural light. By setting a higher light target for these zones, the Sollum light fixtures will stay on longer when the natural light levels increase to ensure an even quantity of light is received by the crop during any given day (even DLI).
Shiller: Can you share how Sollum creates its light recipes? What are some plant varieties that Sollum has light recipes for? Can you share some other crops that recipes are being developed for?
- Recipes are custom built for each client, using existing basic recipes (based on the Sun’s cycle).
- We tailor them as greenhouse production evolves, thanks to growers’ knowledge and crop results.
- We’ve experienced our technology with more than 50 types of crops (from cukes to hops); We currently focus on strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, propagation (young plants) and lettuce.
- Recipes are optimized based on the varieties and crop registration observations.
Shiller: Can you discuss what portion of the CEA market Sollum is targeting with its expansion into the U.S. market? Size of growers? Specific types of CEA facilities? Regional focus?
Tremblay: Given our comprehensive solution and advanced cloud-based platform, I can share that Sollum’s technology is geared to specialty greenhouses, for example producers of premium products such as herbs and strawberries and large-scale commercial operations whether a single-bay greenhouse or a greenhouse complex. As for our plans for expansion, you can understand that we want to remain discreet as we move forward.
Thank you to Kassim Tremblay. More information about Sollum Technologies can be found here.
Images: Sollum Technologies.