LED Lighting Systems in Agriculture and Horticulture

Although it is still a debated subject among scientists, many studies seem to show that seeds and plants exposed to music will germinate and grow faster. However, the effect of light on plants is unquestionable, as it is one of the crucial elements, along with water and soil, that anything vegetal needs, and LEDs, with their remarkable programming capabilities, have started to be widely used to maximise crop growth.

While artificial lighting has been used in the past to stimulate plants, metal halide lamps, which were the conventional choice, were found to be unsatisfactory as their spectrum of light was too broad and a lot of energy was wasted on green light, for example, which has minimal benefits for plants.

On the other hand, LEDs offer monochromatic light which means they can be used to support specific phases of a plant’s growth: red will boost chlorophyll absorption in plants, which is at the heart of the photosynthesis process; while blue affects a plant’s shape. Other frequencies can also alter the taste, juiciness, and nutritional value of fruit and vegetable, although those are not yet entirely understood.

Likewise, although one would expect different species to react differently to various ‘light recipes’, it may surprise you to know that different species of the same plant can respond differently to the same light mix, showing that there is still a lot of research that needs to be done.

Until recently, agricultural and horticultural companies had to buy various sets of lights for the plants’ different stages of growth, but LED manufacturers have now focused their attention on producing lights that can be mixed and matched for a more flexible and cost-effective solution.

Philips, for example, launched the Philips GreenPower Dynamic LED horticultural production module in June 2016. Working in conjunction with a software, the four different coloured diodes (red, far red, blue and white) allow researchers and growers to adjust both the LED colours in the spectrum and individual light intensities to target specific growth stages, all of that with the convenience of a single light system.

OSRAM, another big player in the LED world, has also developed a range of products for agricultural applications, the OSRAM Opto Semiconductors, which also target the spectra responsible for increased chlorophyll absorption and photosynthesis.

There is still a lot to learn about this new science, but LEDs could be the start of an agricultural revolution where fertilisers become redundant and the planet can produce larger amounts of food to feed an ever-increasing global population. It also opens the door to growing crops in parts of the world that wouldn’t otherwise be able to sustain crops of fruit or vegetable for lack of natural light.

If you are looking for LEDs for your home or business, get in touch with us via our online form or by phone on (09) 972 0078 and we will be happy to advise you on the most suitable products for your situation.

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