Building Tomorrow’s Farms with LED Horticulture Lighting

By WPG AmericasNovember 26, 2018

As the world's population continues its unprecedented growth and the global demand for food accelerates, the availability of arable land continues to shrink in proportion. Not only are the current farming practices insufficient to meet the rising needs, they are also unable to cope under the mounting challenges of global warming and climate change. The need is stronger than ever for farmers to turn to more sustainable and efficient solutions.

In the developed world, where the demand for locally-grown food is rising steadily, cultivation in soil-less and controlled environments — such as greenhouses and indoor farms — are allowing farmers to provide fresh, seasonal, and safe produce to consumers all year round. With indoor farming becoming more viable as well as profitable, vacant neighborhoods, rooftops, deserted factories, old warehouses are increasingly being turned into urban farms in the middle of cities.

Besides utilizing spaces that we could never imagine as ‘cultivable,’ these new-age farms are also helping farmers grow a wide range of crops, even in regions that don’t have the soil or the climate for it. For example, vertical farms like Green Sense Farms are giving people a taste of "locally grown, leafy greens in the middle of a Chicago winter". But that’s not the only benefit. These farms depend partially or entirely on artificial lighting, which offers more precise control over factors like crop growth, quality and yield. Therefore. Indoor farms can provide a far more consistent and dependable supply of fresh produce than field crops. Because the environment is entirely controlled, indoor farms attract few pests. As a result, they can easily grow healthier crops without the need for pesticides.

Energy efficient LED technology is also changing the way growers use artificial lights in their indoor farming facilities. Because LEDs emit negligible heat, they do not warm up the environment in the same way as the traditionally-used HPS luminaires do. This allows farmers to place LED grow lights closer to plants and reduces the need for artificial cooling. LEDs also last significantly longer than HPS lamps and consume less energy.

LED lighting revolution

As researchers continue to establish new findings around lights of specific wavelengths and their impact on different plants and stages of growth, traditional grow lights and broad-spectrum sources such as HPS lamps are being outperformed by horticulture LED lights due to their ability to produce photo-synthetically active radiation (PAR) wavelengths — light that’s useful for horticulture and falls within the 400-700nm range. This factor alone makes LED a far-superior option for supplemental lighting in greenhouses as well as vertical and indoor farms that rely completely on artificial light.

Driving the adoption of greenhouses and indoor farms globally, LED-based horticulture lighting is one of the largest as well as the fastest growing markets, estimated to be worth $690 million annually.

Here are some compelling benefits of horticulture LED lights.

  • Control over spectral output
    LED lights offer better match of spectra to plant’s need and their luminosity can be tailored to accentuate production depending on plant species and growth stage.
  • More precise targeting
    With LED lights, you have superior control over where light goes, which reduces energy consumption.   
  • Lower radiated heat
    LED lights can be placed closer to plants, resulting in more dense farms. This also lowers water consumption.
  • Greater savings
    Long lifetime of luminaires, along with low energy consumption and lower maintenance costs, translates directly into higher ROI for crop producers.

Want to know more about building new-age farms with leading horticulture lighting products? Download our latest eBook — “Farming in the New Light”.