The Future Of Greenhouse Structures

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Growroom Racks and LED Lights

Photo courtesy of Caliber Biotherapeutics

Growing Without Natural Light

Is the future of the greenhouse even a greenhouse at all? Advances in lighting technology will make It possible to produce plants in warehouses or other completely enclosed buildings with no source of natural light.

“Closed environment growing with narrow spectrum light is coming. It will start with the simple stuff, things like lettuce and microgreens that are vegetative and just need a simple spectrum for photosynthesis. Things that are more complicated — plants that require flowering or fruit set — are going to take some systematic research to find out what’s required there.

“Where solar light is abundant it should be leveraged for crop growth. However, within 10 years there will be significant integration of LED sources into all kinds of horticultural growing, including closed spaces. I call this sole-source lighting. It’s happening with fluorescents already. As LED costs go down and efficiencies go up it will be more compelling. It’s not going to happen overnight, but you’ll see differences in five years. In 10 years it will be massive. And in 30 years we’ll probably have moved beyond LED to something completely different.

“We’re on the cusp of a lighting revolution.”

Dr. Cary Mitchell Professor of Plant Physiology Purdue University

Laura Drotleff is editor of Greenhouse Grower. Richard Jones is the group editor for Meister Media Worldwide’s U.S. Horticulture Group. He was formerly an editor with Greenhouse Grower and Today's Garden Center magazines.

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