The global demand for food is driving the growing industry to expand and change as traditional standard practices make way for new and better ways to produce crops. Standard farming can no longer meet the needs of Earth’s 7.8 billion people, and increasingly unpredictable weather can cause an entire crop to fail. According to CropsReview.com, a single high-rise farm can produce as much produce as 480 traditional horizontal farms and a single indoor acre is equivalent to multiple outdoor acres of farmed land. In June of 2020, Forbes.com said, “The global population is predicted to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, and to feed everyone, it’s estimated that global food production will need to increase by up to 70% in the next 30 years.” The benefits of indoor farming range from being more sustainable to producing higher yields per acre and being less dependent on ideal weather conditions.
Lighting Application Types for Indoor Growers
Indoor farming and greenhouse farming are both indoor operations, but greenhouse farming utilizes sun light through glass or plastic ceilings and walls. Indoor farms can utilize a combination of natural sunlight and artificial light. The type of farming done inside these buildings will affect what type of lighting is needed.
High-bay LED grow lights with a wide-angle beam distribution reduces fixture density. Using LED lights in high-bay configurations allows the grower to control what spectrum of light is needed for individual crops. Because LED lights emit less heat, and consume less energy, they are the best choice for commercial growers.
Vertical farming, where racks of plants are stacked vertically on top of each other, utilizes light fixtures position only a short distance above the plants. Growing vertically allows the grower to cultivate a high-density crop with a small land area footprint and the properties of LED grow lights allow for spectrum and heat management as required by each individual crop.
Interlighting configurations position linear lighting along and between the plants to prevent shading. The resulting light distribution is ideal for certain crops as it increases light absorption by reaching more of the plant surfaces.
Horticulture Lighting Growth Projections
According to a recent study, horticulture lighting is expected to grow 21.4% annually through 2026. This growth will come from both newly constructed growing facilities, as well as replacing existing high-pressure sodium (HPS) or metal-halide fixtures in existing structures. The upfront investment in LED grow lights may be considered more expensive but the long-term cost savings and yield growth will produce a much more attractive ROI. Indoor growers also reap the benefits of year-round crop production.