LED light can be tuned to the optimum spectral illumination for plant growth.

- Jul 12, 2019-

Indoor horticulture has historically been limited to hobbyists and a few growers who pursued indoor plant growth as a passion more than as a commercial venture. LED lighting technology is now changing the face of horticulture by making it a viable supplement to the commercial production of food crops. Several aspects of LED lighting are contributing to the renewed growth of horticulture.

Natural sunlight includes a broad spectrum of different light bandwidths and colors. Traditional artificial light typically replicates only a small portion of that bandwidth and omits the bandwidths that plants need for photosynthesis. New generation LED lights can be tuned to the optimum bandwidth and spectral characteristics that promotes the best growth in individual plant species. Moreover, unlike traditional indoor growth lights, LED light fixtures generate virtually no excess heat that might harm plants during their growth cycles. Less heat also means less water consumption and lower moisture loss due to evaporation. With LED lighting, an indoor horticulturalist can fine tune both the light and temperature throughout an indoor growing cycle to generate the most robust and healthiest plant growth.

The initial costs of an indoor horticultural light system are higher than other grow lights, but LED operating and maintenance costs are substantially lower, and initial expenditures can be quickly recovered through costs savings. LED lights generate the same or better illumination with less than one-third of the energy input, and as noted, the spectral characteristics of that illumination will better match a plant’s needs. LED horticultural lighting can also be used to generate plant growth on a year-round basis. Rather than being limited to one or two growing cycles that may be feasible with natural light, an indoor horticulturalist might be able to generate three or four crops per calendar year.

LED bulbs contain no mercury or other hazardous chemicals and impose no special disposal or other permit obligations on indoor growers. Because they operate at lower electrical loads, LED lights also have a significantly lower carbon footprint. LED’s with advanced lenses and optics are more directable to specific growing areas and generate less excess light that might contribute to light pollution.

environments are evolving and adapting to different uses, indoor horticulture in is rushing to fill in spaces that previously had been used for residences or commercial purposes. Space limitations imposed by smaller city lots are easily overcome with vertical farming systems that incorporate LED lighting across tiers of plant growth. LED horticultural lighting gives city residents an opportunity to grow fresh and healthy produce while eliminating the need to bring produce in from distant farming communities.

Pest infestations that might harm plants are easier to control in indoor growing environments. Under the right conditions, an indoor growing facility can eliminate all use of pesticides, producing crops that are chemical-free and that meet organic growing standards.