Royal Philips, the global leader in lighting, has partnered with Green Sense Farms (GSF), a Chicago-area commercial grower, to develop one of the largest indoor commercial farms using LED grow lights tailored to its specific crops. This innovative farming model allows it to harvest 20 to 25 times a year by using “light recipes” optimized for its produce, using 85 percent less energy. Philips says the result will be an increase in crop yields and reduced operating costs, while providing consumers with locally grown, fresh vegetables throughout the year.
A growing population, combined with limited amounts of arable land and devastation of crops due to severe weather makes it difficult for farmers to keep up with urban growth. This is driving innovation of new farming technologies that allow plants to grow without sunlight in indoor environments close to or within cities.
Plants use certain wavelengths of light more efficiently and respond in a different way to different sets of wavelengths. The advent of LED technology has enabled the fine tuning of tailor-made light recipes optimized to the needs of specific crops.
“Different plant types have different light needs and working with forward thinking growers like GSF, Philips is building up a database of ‘light recipes’ for different plant varieties,” says Udo van Slooten, director of horticultural lighting at Philips. “GSF is using vertical hydroponic technology with Phillips LED growing lights, enabling them to do what no other grower can do, which is to provide a consistent amount of high quality produce, year-round.
GSF invested millions of dollars to renovate and equip a million cubic foot indoor growing area consisting of fourteen 25-foot tall growing towers in two climate-controlled grow rooms, which use Philips energy-efficient LED solutions tailored to its specific crops. This method also eliminates the need for harmful pesticides, fertilizers or preservatives, resulting in produce that is organically grown and virtually chemical free.
“Through our joint research and development efforts with Philips, we continue to innovate and perfect LED lighting for indoor growing systems that can maximize plant photosynthesis, while minimizing energy use for the most delicious and nutritious vegetables grown in a sustainable manner,” says Robert Colangelo, founding farmer/president of Green Sense Farms. “By growing our crops vertically, we are able to pack more plants per acre than we would have in a field farm, which results in more harvests per year. We produce little waste, no agricultural runoff and minimal greenhouse gases because the food is grown where it is consumed.”
GSF says its vision is to build farms at institutions, such as college campuses, hospital complexes and military bases that serve large worker populations, reducing the miles their food travels and improving freshness.
Source: Philips Lighting