How LEDs have revolutionised horticulture

With increasing populations and a scarcity of green spaces, the horticultural lighting industry continues to grow. Globally this market is projected to reach $16.5 billion by 2030 (Market Research Future (MRFR) report, 2021). This projection is in part being driven by improvements in LED technologies. Thanks to the high energy-efficiency and long lifetimes they offer, the industry’s dependence on LEDs is increasing year-on-year. LEDs are superseding other horticultural lighting technologies, unsurprising considering the unique advantages gained from the latest LED technologies. These continue to make indoor farming a reality.

Additionally, more focus is now being placed by companies and governments on sustainability. There has been an increase in initiatives from researchers, organisations, and governments to increase sustainability with how foods are produced and sourced. LEDs continue to revolutionise this industry in multiple areas.

The cost of LEDs and horticultural LED solutions has come down in recent years. With LEDs becoming more affordable, they can be more widely implemented in horticulture and indoor farming. Increasing LEDs capacity to continue revolutionising and defining the future of horticulture.

 

Expanding R&D possibilities and knowledge

For plants to grow indoors away from sunlight, environmental conditions need to be optimum. Light exposure is one of these key conditions. LEDs allow researchers to develop and study the precise effects of specific spectral compositions and wavelengths on certain plants and stages of growth. Plus, LEDs can be integrated in smart systems which increase user control, enabling real-time adjustment and monitoring of research to accurately focus on particular variables and data measurements (e.g., micromole levels).

Such research increases the industries knowledge of LEDs in horticulture and increase the number of ways these are affectively applied to the market. For example, The University of Edinburgh has been successfully exploring how robots can be used in research to gain a greater understanding of how plants sense light. Read more here.

 

Increase applications and growing possibilities.

Indoor farming and horticultural lighting have been around for years. Traditionally they have been powered by light sources such as high pressure sodium (HPS) lamps. But LEDs are making these other technologies obsolete. With the innovative solutions on the market today, LEDs can be integrated into almost any growing application. There is a vast choice of spectral outputs, sizes, shapes, and prices available. Thus, LEDs are ideal for indoor farming, as well as increasing yields within greenhouses.

With LEDs, farmers have been able to optimise crop yields, continue growing crops out of season, and grow in urban areas. With rising population rates and rapid urbanisation, there is more demand for and pressure on fresh food production. LEDs provide a solution to this demand. Urban vertical farms are becoming more common, producing crops close to the demand. This is mad possible with smart lighting, sensor systems and even artificial intelligence.

 

Promote sustainability in indoor farming

When operating, LEDs are more energy and resource efficient. Not only are their running costs lower than other light technologies, but they also leave a smaller carbon footprint. LEDs do not see a significant reduction in their efficiency over lifetime, so energy costs are saved whilst efficiency remains maximised. Modern LED grow lights can be up to twice as efficient than HPS lamps. So, electricity consumption could be reduced by up to 50%, while yields remain the same.

Modern LED technologies also offer longer lifetimes, further increasing their sustainability. LED grow lights can offer up to, which equates to about 15 years of quality indoor growing! LEDs are a sustainable long-term solution for growers, with less wastage through broken lamps and frequent bulb replacement.

Additionally, the increased possibilities around urban growing mean that the distance from farm to plate is reduced. Thus, pollution and costs from sourcing and transportation food from afar and decreased. LED technologies enable food to be grown sustainably and locally.

 

Pharma applications

The pharmaceutical industry is also one influenced by developing LED technologies. LEDs contribute to the production of medical plants and drugs as well as pharmaceutical research. LEDs can even be seen implemented in innovative new and experimental treatments, such as photodynamic therapy for cancer treatment. As with horticultural research LEDs have helped accelerate research methods and possibilities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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