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    Horticultural lighting for sustainable food production

     

    August 7, 2020

     

    Indoor farms can use less energy, water, and land than traditional farming methods and may be a big part of our future food system

     

    Significant changes in sustainable agriculture need to be made as our population rises and puts pressure on global food security. In fact, the global food system accounts for about one quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, consumes the majority of all freshwater, and is the leading cause of deforestation. By 2050, there will be another two billion people on the planet increasing food demand by 70%.

     

    Sustainable alternatives can ensure that there’s enough safe and affordable food. Using artificial lights in horticulture is one way to increase demand without driving up the resource usage.

    LED grow lights lead the way


    Grow lights can either supplement natural daylight or replace it entirely. Using them creates a controlled farming environment, often in places previously unsuitable for growing food. This produces a wealth of benefits including the ability to fine-tune quality and increase yield. They also, and perhaps more importantly, reduce environmental impacts like the need for land, water, pesticides, and the distance food travels to reach your plate.
    tomatoes

    Indoor Agriculture


    Signify is leading the way to provide science-based solutions for the lighting needs of indoor agriculture.

     

    A recent deal with Agro-Inwest expanded the world’s largest LED horticultural lighting project. This greenhouse complex south of Moscow is now supplied with 68.5 hectares of LED lights, equivalent to more than 100 football pitches. The facility is now able to grow tomatoes all year round – in a region where in winter has fewer than eight hours of daylight and temperatures regularly drop below -10°.

    They deliver the right light for the plant, exactly when and where the plant needs it the most, while radiating far less heat than conventional lighting. Thanks to this technology we will be able to increase yields in the darker months of the year, and significantly reduce our energy usage.”

     

    Irina Meshkova

    Deputy CEO and general director of Agro-Inwest

    “They deliver the right light for the plant, exactly when and where the plant needs it the most, while radiating far less heat than conventional lighting. Thanks to this technology we will be able to increase yields in the darker months of the year, and significantly reduce our energy usage,” said Irina Meshkova, deputy CEO and general director of Agro-Inwest.
     

    The lights have contributed to improvements in the tomatoes’ growth predictability and quality; the greenhouse can now supply fresh produce to Moscow on the day it’s harvested. This helps meet the demand for locally grown fruit and vegetables in Russia. Similar success has been seen in France where Jardins Réunis and Cheminant have become the first two growers to produce high-wire LED-lit cucumbers in the country and have seen quality throughout the year.
     

    “LEDs give a better heat-light balance, generating a significant increase in production without the heat that you would get with HPS (high pressure sodium) lighting. As per Signify’s calculations, we’re aiming for 30% more production in our 20,000m² semi-closed lit greenhouse compared to a traditional non-lit greenhouse,” explains Antoine Cheminant, co-owner of Cheminant.

    LED grow lights

    Vertical Farming


    Signify’s horticultural lighting range has also helped the production of vertical farms where crops are grown indoors in multi-layered systems to maximise space.
     

    RIAT, a Russian innovative farming enterprise, has an indoor vertical farm some 500km north of Agro-Inwest’s greenhouse complex. By using Signify’s GreenPower LED grow lights, the farm harvests 21 crops year-round without any daylight. Tomatoes and cucumbers are distributed to local areas within an hour of them being picked and the quality is so high that the farm sells 99% of all its produce.

    In Milan, Signify is providing lighting systems to Planet Farms, a company that will have finished construction on Europe’s largest vertical farm by the end of the year. It will operate an innovative integrated growth process where the production is entirely automated – this means that the consumer will be the first to touch the crop.

    The GrowWise Control System helps us easily adjust light recipes and continuously enhance the taste of our crops, which is crucial for us.”

     

    Luca Travaglini

    Co-founder and co-CEO of Planet Farms

    The farm will also implement the Philips GrowWise Control System, already being used in many other farms across the world, where growers can create custom ‘light recipes’ that give full control of the outcome of the crop’s quality. Different plants have different light needs at different times, and the system allows growers flexibility in luminosity and colour to meet the needs of growth phases – it works seamlessly with climate management systems too.

     

    “The GrowWise Control System helps us easily adjust light recipes and continuously enhance the taste of our crops, which is crucial for us,” said Luca Travaglini, co-founder and co-CEO of Planet Farms.

     

    And it’s this – quality combined with sustainability – that will drive the success of horticultural lighting systems. Indoor farms that use LEDs and little heat can be significantly less impactful on the environment than large-scale traditional outdoor farms – especially when taking into consideration diesel-powered heavy machinery, vast amounts of water, land destruction, and food air miles that result from the latter.

     

    As cities continue to become larger metropolitan hubs and the amount of arable land decreases, growers should consider working indoors and upwards more and more– smart energy efficient artificial lighting will be key to achieving this.

     

    A version of this article first appeared on Climate Home News

    GreenPower LED

    About the author:

    Zak Derler

    Zak Derler

    Associate Editor for Branded Content, Climate Home News

    For further information, please contact:

    Signify Global Integrated Communications
    Neil Pattie
    Tel: + 31 6 15 08 48 17
    Email: neil.pattie@signify.com

    About Signify

     

    Signify (Euronext: LIGHT) is the world leader in lighting for professionals and consumers and lighting for the Internet of Things. Our Philips products, Interact connected lighting systems and data-enabled services, deliver business value and transform life in homes, buildings and public spaces. With 2019 sales of EUR 6.2 billion, we have approximately 37,000 employees and are present in over 70 countries. We unlock the extraordinary potential of light for brighter lives and a better world. We achieved carbon neutrality in 2020, have been in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index since our IPO for four consecutive years and were named Industry Leader in 20172018 and 2019.News from Signify is located at the Newsroom, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. Information for investors can be found on the Investor Relations page.

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