Optimization of Phytonutrient and Vitamin Content of Salad Leaves Grown in an Intensive, Multi-Level Hydroponics System Using LED Lighting

May Barn Consultancy

3 Year Industry-led Funded Phd: Ref. No. CGE 65

The production of salad leaf products using LED lighting in intensive hydroponic systems is on the rise. Multi-level, hydroponic plant production units are potentially more water, nutrient and energy use efficient, compared with outdoor or glasshouse production systems.

Optimization of this technology is required for the technique to reach its full potential. In particular, it is highly important to ensure that the vitamin and phytonutrient content of the hydroponic products match those grown in natural light conditions under polythene tunnels or in glasshouses.

Manipulation of the light environment, to produce high levels of phytonutrients in hydroponics would permit food production in unusual spaces (i.e redundant buildings, shipping containers) reducing pressure on limited agricultural land. At the same time, hydroponics can optimize energy inputs and, potentially, reduce losses from disease.

Thus, this project aims to use photobiology to establish a large scale, hydroponic system to produce high quality and nutritious salad herbs in a sustainable manner.

This important project will help to improve consumer acceptance of such products grown inside sealed production buildings or in unusual spaces, such as redundant buildings or converted shipping containers.

Applicants should have a first or upper second degree in biology, biochemistry or related subjects.

Enterprise and Collaborative Partners

 The PhD is a collaborative research project between Lancaster University with supervision by Dr Gabriela Toledo-Ortiz and Dr Paul Challinor of May Barn Consultancy Ltd.  May Barn Consultancy Ltd offers a unique combination of experience in agronomy, horticultural crop production and technical management.

With over 30 years of experience in the UK Horticultural Industry May Barn Consultancy Ltd has recently  been supporting businesses with work focusing on intensive, hydroponic and organic crop production techniques, nutrient film technique, coir, rockwool, pumice and clinoptilolite zeolite.

Why Apply?

By joining the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation you will:

  • Receive £15,000 tax free per year
  • Have your postgraduate tuition fees paid for by your partner business, worth c£4,195/year (fees for Non EU/UK graduates are subsidised from £17,510/year to £13,315/year.) See university website for published rates by year of entry)
  • Become part of a cohort of graduates working with an award-winning team on business-led R&D
  • Finish in a strong position to enter a competitive job market in the UK and overseas.

The post is subject to confirmation of funding.


Application deadline

13th August 2017

Provisional Interview Date: 21st August 2017

Starting date: September/October 2017