The Rise of Indoor Vertical Farming & LED Lighting

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Overview & What is Vertical Farming

Indoor Vertical Farming, also known as indoor horticulture lighting, LED Grow Lights, hydroponics lighting, has been around for years and since LED lighting has advanced, this lighting has definitely come into play a lot more in recent years. LED lighting  can distribute light evenly and efficiently to illuminate specific areas for farming, also using a lot less energy (and heat!) than the industry standard high-intensity discharge (HID).  Because of this, developers can “stack” grow areas on top of one another and more the lighting closer to the produce, therefore eliminating vast amounts of area needed to grow the produce.

LED Grow Lights have the ability to be a supplement for natural sunlight (aka the sun). LED grow lights are specifically designed to be put in an environment that creates a controlled environment allowing you, a business or even a city, a place to grow produce.LED grow lights

Pandemic & Global Food Shortage

This topic can be (and most likely will be) a separate blog post but I’m going to dive into it with how it relates to vertical farming and LED lighting, as well as how you can do this yourself at home! The spread of pandemic across the world has caught many people, companies and governments by surprise and with little preparation to respond. In the United States, there are various government restrictions in effect, ranging from limited capacities at restaurants, to banning public gatherings, school closings, enforcing masks in public, the list goes on.

How does this tie to LED lighting and specifically vertical farming lighting? Cities such as New York City has a food supply of approximately 19 billions pounds per year sold across 42k outlets. The pandemic has severely disrupted the food chain supply which shows up in your supermarkets and local stores (empty shelves, limited products, delivery shortages, etc.). Unless you are purchasing from a local farmer, the food chain supply can become very complicated and quite extensive. With this being said, the ability and significant benefits of vertical farming, whether in an urban environment or rural area, can be very helpful food food security in any event. Food demand will always be present, and with the global population always growing, anyway to meet these incredible food demands, improve the food supply while maintaining a sustainable agriculture practices should be taken into consideration.

Dr. Dickson Despommier, professor of microbiology and Public Health at Columbia University in New York City, discusses this in a TEDx Talk here:

The Vertical Farm: Dickson Despommier at TEDxColumbiaEngineering

Living in an urban area, cities (and individuals) want to be able to access high-quality produce the safest way possible. Companies have started to optimize LED lighting specifically focused on crops and produce for vertical farming that can be grown in urban environments.

What You Can Do

  • Developing and implementing sustainable agricultural practices are key cities and communities both locally and globally. In fact, the United Nations have a Sustainable Development Goals Program, which addresses the challenges of the world we live in today and what we need to do to achieve these goals by 2030. Goals 11 and 12 that discuss vertical farming and responsible consumption and production.

Benefits

LED Grow Lights

  • Water
    • LED Grow lights use up to 95% less water than the conventional agricultural means. With indoor vertical farms, you do not need to worry about miles of irrigation systems, being located near a body of water or river. Depending on the size of your indoor vertical farm, you’ll be able to have a better handle on how much water is needed
  • Land
  • Distance
    • Food can put in some serious miles before it arrives to your house. The supply chain can mean changing hands several times (sea, air, truck), also having multiple companies (and employees) working on exchanging product to ultimately get the product to the shelves. While there are of course endless processes and procedures in place
    • Having product grown locally has it’s advantages, from reduction in energy resources to minimizing any and all direct contact with produce to improvement in high-yield and high-quality produce to also supporting local businesses
  • Maintenance
    • With the reduction in food supply chain, LED Grow Lights can also reduce the number people needed to maintain and transport produce from Point A to Point B
    • LED grow lights also have a long (18-20 year) life span! Upwards of 50-100K hours you can take advantage of year-round growing!

Where Can I Start?

Unlike regular LED lights, these are for a specific purpose so make sure you do a little research before diving right in. Look at what you want to grow, how large of a LED grow lighting system you want to develop and ask questions! LED lighting technology is at a point where you can always scale your system, meaning start small and make it bigger if you want.LED Grow Lights

If you are deciding to do this at your home, look at how much space you want to dedicate to this as well and potential produce you would like to grow. If you’re a business or a city (or you just have a lot of space), think about how much space you want to start with. My recommendation is to start with a pilot program and then ramp up from there. Build a system that you can test over a period of time and see how much produce you can make over a specific period of time as well as any financial costs. There are definite upsides but planning this out is a great place to start!

Check out our LED Grow Lights here and get started on your own horticulture system today!