Dec 5, 2016: Now urban farming has become hi-tech, thanks to LED lighting designed to increase the yield and quality of fruits, vegetables and crops. This has not only increased their availability in the market, but have also improved their profitability.
Modern farming has recognised that although plants need light, they do not need the same amount of light, or the same type of light. Since sunlight cannot be tailored to meet the needs of the plants and crops, growers have turned to LED lighting to be able to control the amount of light, the color of light, and its duration, as per the requirements of the plants and crops.
LEDs lead to business opportunities
In the last two years, LED lighting has grown as a significant technology in the horticulture domain, which is valued at about $300 billion by the US Department of Agriculture. Therefore, LED lighting has opened business opportunities in this large industry. As a result, growers of all sizes are also adopting LED lighting to meet the demands of this growing industry.
LEDs are a clear choice
LED lighting has become a clear choice for growers over traditional lighting like high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps or high-pressure sodium (HPS). Growers have benefited immensely from the longer lifespan, flexibility, and lower operating costs of LED lighting. LED lighting has also enhanceed crop productivity where higher photosynthetic activity is required, or where growers require light of specific wavelengths (colors) to ensure healthy growth of plants and crops.
LED lighting has also become an ideal choice in such situations where sunlight doesn’t reach the plants and crops properly. In such cases tunable/dimmable LEDs are used. LEDs can also be tuned to provide photon energy at wavelengths optimum for plant photosynthesis. This leads to faster growth and higher yield.
LEDs also have the ability to change the spectra of light to meet various phases of plant growth. Growers can adjust light formulas for different crops and different requirements at different phases of crop’s growth cycle.
Applications for LED fixtures
LED fixtures have different applications in the horticulture domain. From toplighting, multilayer cultivation, interlighting to supplemental lighting, the opportunities for growers to apply LED lighting are endless.
Many challenges solved
LED lighting has solved the challenge growers face while growing fruits, vegetables and flowers in high-density areas without using pesticides.
Growers also faced the challenge of growing different crops that require different light spectra at various phases of the growth cycle. Here also LED lighting had the advantage.
Another problem solved by LED lighting is the fact that natural weather conditions like cloudy, rainy, snowy days disrupt plant growth, and even the quality of crops. But by using LED lighting, growers can precisely provide the light wavelength required for high quality yields.
As business opportunities continue to grow in the horticulture domain, key LED companies like Osram, Philips, etc, are getting involved in studies to find out the effect of growing floriculture and vegetable crops in different weather conditions under different spectra of LED light. These studies will definitely lead to a greater understanding regarding the impacts of the spectral quality of light on plant growth, that would lead to more applications for LEDs.