Jan 17, 2017: Since the last couple of years, LED lighting has been slowly and steadily penetrating the agriculture sector. Today, LED lighting has created a quiet revolution in the agricultural sector, as it brings massive changes to the method of farming and rearing livestock with the help of lighting.
Special LED lighting systems that provide special spectral outputs, have helped to enhance crop and livestock production. At the same time, time and costs have been reduced, further increasing the profits for the farmers. These LED systems also improve the quality of the products.
LEDs being a tunable light source, its usage is become popular for plant and crop growth, while providing plants, birds and beasts the right growing environment.
LED lighting for plant and crops
According to studies, there are specific wavelengths that promote growth of plants and crops, and the same wavelengths can be produced by applying LED technology. As chlorophyll absorption takes place in two ranges—400-500nm and 600-700nm, this indicates that plants can grow efficiently under blue and red light. Green light is actually of no use to plant, they appear green because they reflect the wavelength.
As we all know, photosynthesis requires light, but when a light saturation point comes, the plant cannot absorb any more chlorophyll, at around 700 micromoles per m2 per second. Hence, any amount of light after that is a waste.
When LED light is used for plants, it is measured in micro-moles per second. Micromoles measure the number of photons that pass through an area—one micromole of light equals a little more than 62 quadrillion photons.
Earlier artificial lighting had been used to help extend the ‘growing day’, but now LED lighting is being used to manage the total environment, where lighting provides 100% illumination to plants grown in sheds. These specific LED lighting systems are tuned to provide specific wavelengths as per the growth cycle of the specific plants.
Today, with fast advancement in LED technology, plant growth light can be tuned exactly to the needs of crops and its environment. LED grow light manufacturers offer specific LED solutions for young plants, vegetables, fruits and flowers.
Here are some interesting facts:
- Blue light helps flowers to open up, and starts the plant’s daytime circadian cycle
- Red light enhances stem growth and flowering
- Infra-red light mimics the effect of sunset
LED solutions used for fruit and vegetable farming help to extend the growing season, especially in cold regions where there is short summers. For example, LED lighting has long been used in greenhouses to extend tomato seasons.
Since LED lighting does not produce heat, growers can use interlighting, which means placing lights near and between the plants, delivering light to the lower foliage that usually do not get direct light from above.
LEDs have the greatest impact in growing leafy greens and herbs that only reach small heights and can be grown in layers or racks with each layer having a dedicated set of LED luminaires close to the plants.
LED lighting for poultry shed
LED lighting has also shown great impact on poultry breeding. Right lighting is vital for poultry breeding because wrong lighting can be catastrophic for the poultry population in the shed. It is a known fact that stressed fowl become aggressive and the entire flocks of turkeys and chickens can be destroyed overnight due to violence by birds.
The specific wavelengths required for domestic fowl’s best response has been found by researchers, and the same wavelength can be created by LED lighting. Domestic fowl have sensitivity in blue-green range—from around 500nm – 700nm. On the other hand, chickens can see ultra violet light that is invisible to humans. It is found that red light promotes sexual activity and growth rate.
LED solutions can create the ideal environment where poultry do not show stressful behaviour like over-eating. LED lights can now be used for better eggs produce with consistent sizes and ample shell thickness. LED solutions help to keep birds calm, and help to convert food into body mass.
Today, by using LED lighting that can mimic unique spectral requirements of poultry, swine, dairy cattle, fish, or crustaceans, farmers can reduce stress and mortality, and regulate circadian rhythm, and increase the production of eggs, meat, and other protein sources.