It is a well known fact that low energy LED Lights can help light a home for less. But did you also know they have a lot to offer to the agricultural industry?
In as little as 50 years, scientists believe that an increase in food demand, resulting from global population growth, will make the adoption of more advanced farming methods a necessity. By replacing traditional grow light technologies, LEDs will enable farmers to produce food in greater quantities while consuming fewer resources.
Like most living things, plants have certain requirements in order to live and grow. As well as soil and water, they also need light, which they use to store energy through a process called photosynthesis.
Recent scientific studies have shown that plants only rely on a small part of the electromagnetic (light) spectrum to photosynthesize, mainly red and blue light.
In the past, it has only been possible to grow plants where there was a plentiful supply of sunlight available. By replicating those particular wavelengths of light necessary for photosynthesis, grow lights enable farmers to grow fruits and vegetables in locations that are normally unsuitable, such as indoors.
Traditional grow lights use fluorescent, sodium or metal halide lighting. These are not a viable option however, as they consume a large amount of energy and are prohibitively expensive.
The latest breakthrough in grow light technology are red and blue LEDs, which are able to produce the same amount of light for a fraction of the cost. Moreover, LEDs are much better at creating the wavelengths of light necessary for photosynthesis. For instance, only 10% of the light emitted by a halide lamp is used, while the rest is wasted.
With computerized LED systems, it is also possible to synchronize the light output with the grow cycle of the plants, thereby maximizing plant growth within a relatively small area. This will allow food to be cultivated in vertical, skyscraper-like arrangements, cutting down on the area needed for agriculture. This will also mean that the means of production could be moved closer to the consumer, reducing the cost and pollution resulting from transportation.
Finally, LEDs are less prone to failure. Whereas a fluorescent or halide lamp may fail once or twice a year, an LED will continue working for many years without the need for replacement.
In the years to come, LED Lights will have an important role to play in ensuring our supply of food remains safe, affordable and plentiful.
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