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Zhong-Hua Chen, University of Western Sydney, AUSTRALIA



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The use of LED technology is commonly assumed to result in significantly cooler leaf temperatures than high pressure sodium technology. To evaluate the magnitude of this effect, we measured radiation incident to and absorbed by a leaf under four radiation sources: clear sky sunlight in the field, sunlight in a glass greenhouse, and indoor plants under either high pressure sodium or light emitting diodes. We then applied a common mechanistic energy-balance model to compare leaf to air temperature difference among the radiation sources and environments. At equal photosynthetic photon flux, our results indicate that the effect of plant water status and leaf evaporative cooling is much larger than the effect of radiation source. If plants are not water stressed, leaves in all four radiation sources were typically within 2°C of air temperature. Under clear sky conditions, cool sky temperatures mean that leaves in the field are always cooler than greenhouse or indoor plants-when photosynthetic photon flux, stomatal conductance, wind speed, vapor pressure deficit, and leaf size are equivalent. As water stress increases and cooling via transpiration decreases, leaf temperatures can increase well above air temperature. In a near-worst case scenario of water stress and low wind, our model indicates that leaves would increase 6°, 8°, 10°, and 12°C above air temperature under field, LED, greenhouse, and HPS scenarios, respectively. Because LED fixtures emit much of their heat through convection rather than radiative cooling, they result in slightly cooler leaf temperatures than leaves in greenhouses and under HPS fixtures, but the effect of LED technology on leaf temperature is smaller than is often assumed.