As the world population becomes increasingly urbanized, vertical farming offers a way for growers to cultivate plants without the need for traditional farmland or pesticides. As the name suggests, the process involves stacking grow beds of plants vertically in layers in a controlled environment, and then using soil, hydroponics, or aeroponics to deliver nutrients to the plants.
As vertical farming takes place indoors, one of the biggest challenges that growers face is the complete or partial lack of natural sunlight available. To ensure that plants thrive in these closed environments, choosing the right type of artificial lighting, or ‘grow lights’, is crucial.
In recent years, growers have had a chance to explore different lighting solutions. As the industry expands rapidly, LED grow lights have become increasingly popular amongst vertical farmers for a myriad of reasons. These include LED lighting’s great directional focus, customizability, sustainability, and cost-efficiency. All of this allows growers to cultivate healthier plants, reap a higher yield, and reduce farming costs, which massively increases productivity, shortens the journey from farm to table, and offers zero waste farming options.
Below are 5 major ways LED grow lights improve efficiency in vertical farming:
- LED grow lights have great directional focus
When it comes to vertical farming, it is of utmost importance to select the type of artificial lighting that is both consistent and efficient.
LED grow lights are ideal because of their great directional focus. With extremely focused beams, it is possible for the light emitted to always be directly illuminating the plants being cultivated. This is excellent news, as plants thrive in environments of high light output.
Aside from that benefit, LED’s great directional focus also means there is no need for the grower to purchase additional equipment, such as reflectors or light movers, to recapture any light that has been misdirected at the walls or the ceiling. This saves not only money but also space, which is a huge draw for small growers in urban environments.
- LED grow lights have customizable light spectra
LED grow lights can not only mimic sunlight but even outperform it, as they have customizable light spectra.
Research has shown that chlorophyll in plants, which plays a central role in photosynthesis, does not actually respond to the full color spectrum present in sunlight. Rather, they respond mostly to the red and blue ranges in the broad spectrum, which is from where they primarily absorb energy.
As this combination of red and blue luminaires is optimal for photosynthesis in plants, LED technology is popular as it offers ‘narrow band spectrum lights’ that emit only these colors. This is the reason why vertical farms are often seen to be bathed in a swath of purple light.
However, while purple light offers great benefits for the plants, they can be unpleasant for indoor growers to work under for hours at a time each day. The limit in wavelength is also a concern for some plant types.
In this case, broad spectrum ‘white’ LEDs are also available and are often installed, especially in indoor spaces with no access to natural sunlight. These white lights make the vertical farm a more pleasant environment for the grower and ensure plants have access to the entire light spectrum to support them through all their growth stages.
LED iBond understands the needs of growers and offers both broad and narrow spectrum lighting solutions in customizable combinations to accommodate them. For example, the Deep Red and Royal Blue spectrum lights are available separately, to be combined in any ratio the grower wants. Power white LEDs are also available to simulate natural sunlight for indoor vertical farmers.
As growth characteristics can be improved by the optimization of light spectra, customizable LED luminaires offer huge benefits for growers who want to cultivate healthier plants in a more cost-efficient manner.
- LED grow lights have long service lives
Often, customer concerns regarding LED grow lights are about their high costs in comparison with other vertical farming lighting options. Indeed, LED lighting solutions are expensive upfront, and certainly more so compared to their counterparts such as Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) and High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) lights.
Yet what is lesser known is the fact that the average LED grow light has an astonishing service life of over 50,000 hours. This converts to roughly over 6 years of continuous use. Its long service life is due to its extreme energy efficiency. LED grow lights consume substantially less energy than both their CFL and HPS counterparts with similar lighting strengths. In fact, compared to average CFLs on the market, they have approximately three times their lifespan.
Service life is further enhanced in LED iBond’s patented ‘sandwich’ panel design. Made of aluminium, the panels have superior heat dissipation, which translates directly into improved longevity. At iBond, LED grow lights boast individual service lives of over 100,000 hours, which is about 11 years of continuous use.
Adding to this, LED iBond has made sure that burnt out LEDs can be replaced one by one, making the products ROI even more attractive.
This impressive performance ability more than makes up for their high initial cost. In the long run, they are also undoubtedly the most cost-efficient option for vertical farmers.
- LED grow lights have efficient heat control
As part of their energy efficiency, LED grow lights also do not produce as much heat as their luminary counterparts. This is a hugely beneficial feature as low heat output significantly reduces stress on plant canopies and root zones. It also prevents leaf scorch and sunburn. All of this contributes to healthier plant production and extended plant shelf lives immediately after harvest.
Aside from plant protection, efficient heat control from LED grow lights also eliminates the need for additional ventilation solutions. Airflow regulation is required to prevent excess moisture and pest problems in vertical farms. Low heat output from LED lighting reduces the severity of these problems and reduces ventilation costs. This makes them the optimal cost-efficient choice.
With the importance of heat control in mind, LED iBond offers an innovative shelf & rack system with integrated LED grow light panels specifically for vertical farming. In this system, LED lights have working temperatures as low as 40 degrees Celsius based on a patented heat management concept. They also come with enhanced thermal management that offers cooling of the LEDs to extend their longevity. In systems where ventilation is desired, this can be built into the vertical farming system.
This system makes it easy for growers to regulate temperature and airflow inside their farm. Improved cooling also ensures that plants are always protected from excessive heat. These optimizations increase crop quality, which in turn increase the profit margin of the farm.
- LED grow lights can be configured compactly
Often, the lack of space and access to outdoors are the top reasons urban growers turn to vertical farming. Therefore, it is vital that the artificial light solution allows for compact configuration within the farm. In other words, the less space grow lights take up, the more room there will be for cultivating plants. Naturally, this is desirable for growers.
As mentioned in the previous point, LED grow lights have low heat output. This means that they can be placed close to each other safely, and close to the plants without damaging them. This compact arrangement of LED grow lights frees up space for extra plant cultivation, and vertical farmers can double or even triple production output within the same timeframe.
LED iBond’s vertical farming shelf & rack system is optimized for small spaces. With an aluminum composite panel of only 6mm, it is the thinnest LED base ever developed. Lightweight and compact, it gives growers high flexibility and ease of integration into their vertical farms.
This system also has full Internet of Things (IoT) integration. This means it is compatible with third-party technological tools used by growers such as motion sensors and thermostats, which ensures the farm is always in peak condition. Additionally, shelves are color-customizable, so they can easily blend into any greenhouse system both functionally and aesthetically.
When it comes to finding an ideal artificial lighting solution for vertical farming, LED grow lights provide an optimal growth scenario. With attractive operating costs, high levels of sustainability, and compact configuration, they easily outperform their luminary peers. LED grow lights also offer huge potential to maximize plant growth and production, making them a worthwhile investment for every vertical farmer.
Get in Touch
LED iBond is committed to solving the biggest challenges of urban horticulture, which includes the lack of natural sunlight as well as limited grow areas. The patented shelf & rack system and superior service life of LED lighting solutions offered are designed to help vertical farmers navigate these challenges. When they are implemented, growers can cultivate healthier plants at higher rates and improve efficiency in the greenhouse.
The vertical farming shelf & rack system is sold in cooperation with Senmatic A/S. For more information, please contact Henrik Fabricius, VP Sales, Vertical Farming, at the phone number (+45) 8161 7910 or at the email firstname.lastname@example.org.