LED lighting has been popular among a variety of industries as a way to reduce energy consumption and in turn reduce energy costs as well. Researchers are now finding that LED lighting is not only inexpensive and extremely efficient, but it can also be used to boost productivity in various horticultural applications.
GE lighting has recently allowed an industrial lettuce farm in Japan able to produce 10,000 heads daily with the use of LED lighting. Scientists at McGill University in Canada have documented the use of LED lighting to boost tomato production and researchers at Purdue University have documented additional productivity boosts in bedding plants when using LED lighting. These multiple applications seem to prove that LED lighting may provide a much better environment for agricultural applications compared to using fluorescent lighting.
How Does LED Lighting Improve Plant Growth?
A narrow spectrum of LEDs in various colors has been known to enhance the photosynthesis process as well as offer energy cost savings compared to fluorescent lighting or broad spectrum HID lighting that is typically used in commercial farming.
Lettuce Farm in Tagajo, Japan
A partnership between the Mirai lettuce farm and GE Lighting show the huge benefits that can be seen when using LED lighting in urban agricultural applications. This farm uses around 17,500 LED lights and offers a 50% boost in plant production and a 40% drop in energy usage, compared to the previous lighting setup. This translates into a daily harvest of 10,000 heads of lettuce.
Boosts in Production of Tomatoes and Bedding Plants
As mentioned above, researchers have also seen boosts in tomato and bedding plant production with the use of LED lighting. The Purdue University study focused on bedding plants and found a particular boost in production of Penunia, Viola and Salvia plants while using LED lighting.
McGill University studied tomato production under LED light, HPS light and HPS light mixed with LED light. All of the instances where LED lighting was used yielded increased production while the equal combination of LED lighting combined with HPS lighting yielded the best results.
Much Left to Learn in Regards to LED Lighting and Urban Agriculture
While these findings are extremely promising, scientists still need to study LED lighting in more detail before it becomes commonplace among commercial farms.