Agricultural LED Lighting: Improving Sustainable Agriculture

The development potential of LEDs is far beyond the applications of IT products or general daily life. According to research, LED applications in agricultural lighting can efficiently increase crop yields. In this article, we’ll introduce how this is achieved through this interesting application.

Agricultural Lighting: Improving Crop Growth with LEDs

We all know that crops rely on the process of photosynthesis to grow. If we can enhance the effect of sunlight through artificial lighting, it is expectable that the crop growth rate will increase. Agricultural lighting is not a new idea and products like xenon lamps, fluorescent lamps, high voltage sodium lamps and metal halide lamps are commonly used as traditional light-filling lamps. However, the efficiency of these lighting methods is not high enough and the light-filling for plant growth or plant grown by total artificial light requires massive lighting power. Excess radiation of light or radiation that cannot be utilized by plants is merely a waste of energy.

The rapid development of LED lighting technology has enabled a better energy-efficient feature than traditional light sources. Applying LED lighting to agriculture can efficiently decrease the waste of energy. Moreover, LEDs can regulate different colors and spectra and flexibly adjust light sources according to different spectrum demands at different stages of plant growth, accelerate growth rate and utilize the energy more efficiently.

Peak Wavelength for Crop Light Absorption

Plants demand selective spectra during the process of their growth. During photosynthesis, the plant can absorb around 60% of the functions within the range of the visible spectrum (380-760nm). Two absorption peak areas, red & orange lights with wavelengths between 610-720nm (peak=660nm) and blue & purple lights between 400-510nm (peak=450nm), have become the “light fertilizer” of plants. Plants absorb less under the light spectrum of 510-610nm (yellow & green lights). If artificial light sources can be developed for these 2 wave bands, it is foreseeable that the light energy utilization efficiency will increase.

In addition, plants have different spectrum demands at different growth stages. For example, blue light with a wavelength around 450nm can help sprouting, and red light around 630nm can facilitate photosynthesis, sprouting, flowering and fruiting. Based on this characteristic, different kinds of plants have different spectrum demands. For instance, succulents and rhizomes have a higher demand for blue light while plants that flower and fruit prefer red light. Other general balanced plants require both red and blue spectra.

Agricultural LED Lighting Specs & Features

Features including energy-efficiency, programmable design and regulation of light colors and spectra make LED lighting an ideal solution for agricultural lighting. Arrow ESC releases the 30W agricultural lighting solution with the Cree XP-G3 and XP-E LED. This device integrates FL7734 LED drivers from Fairchild and supports input voltages ranging between 180-264 VAC. This solution features the input power of 30W, driving voltage of 33V, driving current of 750 mA, lumen output up to 2500 lm, PPF (Photosynthetic Photon Flux) up to 42.3 μmol/s and PPFD (Photosynthetic Photon Flux Density) up to 62 μmol/ m2/s, based on a test conditions of 50 degree light and the height of 1m. Meanwhile, Arrow ESC also launched the 30W agricultural lighting T8 tube solution integrating the LED from Lumileds Luxeon C and FL7734 LED driver from Fairchild. It supports the input voltage ranging 180-264 VAC, features the input power of 33W, driving voltage of 36V, driving current of 750 mA and full-spectrum light source and is suitable for the cultivation of all crops.

The Challenges of LED Crop Lighting Systems

The promotion of smart LED lighting systems advances the secondary development of agricultural lighting. However, it still faces several obstacles due to the high cost of plant light-filling system. The agricultural lighting system involves light sources, lamps and control systems. These techniques can be either complicated or simple. As long as the cost falls within an acceptable range to farmers, these problems shall no longer be a vexation.

LED Crop Lighting: Efficient Agricultural Solutions

This special industrial application of plant light-filling lighting is emerging and full of potential for development. Combined with IoT, it can enhance the control of LED lighting systems and free the cultivation of crops from the limitations and effects of sunlight. With this technology, farmers can grow their crops indoors completely and mitigate the threat of pests and diseases. This evolution will not only make a positive progress for upgrading the level of modern agriculture production but also open up endless market potential. 

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