When it comes to plants and their growth, they all have a common need, i.e., they all need nutrients, water, and CO2. While this may sound easy enough, there are many other additional factors to be considered. For example, the type of plant that needs to be grown and the nutritional value you want to get from it. The taste and visual appearance of the plant are also worth considering.
When any of the factors mentioned above are imbalanced, the resulting effect on the plant could be catastrophic. Such factors include growth length (night and day), airflow, humidity, and temperature.
When a grower has the ability to control each element used in the growth recipe, it means that there is a high potential for each plant to reach its full potential. Even so, each element must be carefully monitored so that the plant’s morphology impact is optimized.
LED lights as sun replacements
A large part of plant growth depends on light. The outside sun has various UV rays, amongst them being the green wavelengths. They (green wavelengths) are transmitted and reflected stronger by the leaves of a plant as compared to a blue or red wavelength. Leaves absorb the blue and red UV wavelengths more effectively for photosynthesis.
The available intensity and spectrum of light are affected by seasons, weather, and geography. What’s more, light has been seen to have an effect on the way a plant grows. So, light can actually ‘instruct’ a plant to add mass to the leaves, flower, or produce tall stems.
Even so, there are different plants with varying needs for light, and that is why you’ll find some plants responding in a certain way to light wavelengths. There are also some plants that fight for water, nutrients, and light. To ensure that all plants get to experience optimal growth, vertical farming is done.
Why LED lights are a choice for many indoor farmers
Here are some of the primary reasons why many indoor farmers choose to use LED lights on their plants:
- Great luminous efficiency
- The output of numerous spectral-light
- Light intensity that can be controlled
- Energy efficiency
- Uniform illumination of plants
- You can effectively manage heat
Florescent lights and vertical farming
Back in the day, fluorescent lights were the only lights used by those practicing indoor farming. However, LED technology has advanced, and they now have a processing ability. This ability has paved the way for the growth of LED lights making the lights the most efficient of them all and most suitable vertical farming lighting. Moreover, LEDs have a long lifespan as compared to their predecessors.
Now, you also can employ different lighting recipes at a plant’s last growth stage. This increases anthocyanin pigmentation and synthesis. The end product plants like red lettuce, whose green version isn’t appealing to a customer’s eye.
Which light color is best for plant growth?
Even though plants do love light, it should be understood that plants only enjoy a distinctive wavelength. While the naked human eye can only see the light in yellow and white rays, plants can see many colors. Think of plants as being ‘picky eaters’ who have been given food filled with light. The plant’s favorite colors are red and blue.
Both of these colors are useful for photosynthesis. The chlorophyll will suck up the colors as it deflects the green-colored wavelengths. The color green is discerned because it has a habit of bouncing directly to your eyes from a surface.
The color blue’s wavelength isn’t as long. It also contains high frequencies to mean, it handles more energy. This is very important during photosynthesis and also helps to regulate a plant’s growth. When you expose your plant to blue light in excess, the leave and stems will start growing greener, shorter, and thicker. As such, these are traits that are most suitable to house plants.
As for the red color, it contains longer wavelengths, has less energy, and lower frequencies. As such, this color is used to strengthen stems that’ll carry the fruits and grow flowers. The photosynthesis effectiveness is also increased. Thereby allowing a better conversion of sunlight to energy in chlorophyll. Unlike the blue color, the red color makes leaves larger and thinner, which increases the plant’s length.
Types of vertical farming lights
Grow lights are divided into three basic types:
- Fluorescent: They are of two types, namely CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lights) and fluorescent tubes, and are mainly used to grow vegetables and herbs indoors. They also come in a variety of intensities and last long. Furthermore, they are pretty thin and can thus fit even in small spaces.
- HPS: Also known as High-pressure Sodium lights, these lights are now almost as popular as fluorescent bulbs and tubes. They are, however, more commonly found among experienced and commercial indoor growers. The technology surrounding them is also quite well established as they have been around for over 75 years.
Their only drawbacks are the amount of heat they produce, which is considerably high. So, when using these lights, you should keep them at a safe distance from the plants lest they get burnt. They are also costly to maintain and even set up hence their use by commercial growers.
- LEDs: These are the most energy-efficient of the three. They can be placed far from the plants and still give out sufficient light without consuming excessive energy. As for heat produced by LEDs, it’s almost zero. These lights work to create the most conducive environment for almost all types of food plants.
On the flip side, they cost slightly more, and those working in places they have been installed need to wear eye protection as they can harm the human eyes.
Nowadays, farmers no longer depend on the changing of seasons to plant specific types of plants or foods. Advanced lighting technology has made it easy for indoor farmers to replicate the perfect environment to ensure their plants thrive indoors. While many farmers are now also turning to vertical farming lighting for indoor farming, not all have embraced them fully. However, the number is expected to rise as the price of LEDs decreases gradually.