Snow covers the ground on a cold February day, and you are at the grocery store picking ingredients for dinner that include fresh herbs and a spring mix of lettuce, items that used to be found only during warmer months of the year. You confidently walk into the store, taking for granted that these items are readily available despite the season.
Thanks to indoor vertical farming, these simple but nutritionally dense ingredients made it to your grocery cart despite them being out of season.
Indoor vertical farming is the practice of growing produce stacked vertically or horizontally in a closed and controlled environment. And because these facilities don’t require soil for plants to grow, most are either aeroponic, where the plant roots are sprayed with water and nutrients, or hydroponic, where produce is grown in a nutrient-dense bowl of water. This type of farming uses artificial lighting, such as LED, instead of the sun.
Currently, the United States imports 35% of produce that travels an average of 2,000 miles, taking roughly two weeks before hitting the grocery store shelves. The use of vertical farming in this country can help reduce our carbon footprint by increasing locally grown crop yields and cutting down the distance traveled in the supply chain. One significant benefit is that these “farms” can be located close to city centers, thereby offering customers more appealing flavor and fresher produce.
LED Grow Lights for Vertical Farming
Recent technological advances mean that the vertical farm can control every crop aspect. No longer reliant on the sun, vertical farms thrive 24/7 under full-spectrum LED grow lights, cutting the grow cycle in half and resulting in greater yield.
LED grow lights are made with semiconductors just like regular LED lights, except they encourage plant growth. LED grow lights have blue and red-light spectrums (not just the warm -1,000K to cool -10,000K white light like a regular LED light). The blue range helps plants in the vegetative growth stage, and the red spectrum promotes flowering.
LED grow lights save energy at a rate of up to 90 percent when compared to incandescent bulbs because LEDs convert electrical energy directly into light; they waste very little electricity and give off only a nominal amount of heat, making them cool to the touch. In addition, this type o flighting is directional, unlike fluorescent or incandescent bulbs, where the lighting goes in every direction, which results in wasted energy.
So, the next time you enjoy a flavorful salad on a cold winter day, consider the source of the product because it’s more than likely it was harvested from a vertical farm in which LED horticulture grow lights were used to mimic the sun.