A Bright Idea to Try Adaptive Lighting Controls for Your Greenhouse

Dimmable LED fixtures at Peace Tree Farms Candidus

Photo: Marc van Iersel

Candidus, a lighting system designed by Erico Mattos of Cornell University and Marc van Iersel of the University of Georgia to help growers calculate energy and cost savings from achieving daily light integrals, has been awarded a $683,562 Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).


The CIG program facilitates on-farm trials that “help producers improve the health of their operations, while at the same time helping NRCS build data to show the benefit of innovative conservation systems and practices applied on the land,” according to NRCS Acting Chief Kevin Norton.

Mattos notes that historically, NRCS does not fund controlled-environment agriculture projects or energy efficiency projects. Out of 97 submitted proposals, only 14 were selected for funding.

Working in collaboration with NRCS and CEA farmers across the U.S., Mattos says Candidus will implement the adaptive lighting control technology in 12 commercial greenhouses in Virginia, Michigan, and California. In partnership with EnSave, the University of Georgia and the Michigan State University Extension Service, it will (a) demonstrate and quantify the environmental and economic benefits that adaptive lighting control can provide to the greenhouse industry at the farm level, state level, and national level; (b) determine growers’ perception and adoption/rejection considerations for investing in advanced lighting controls; (c) provide NRCS with practice scenario guidance to facilitate the technology’s integration into programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program; and (d) promote awareness of the technology through a variety of outreach activities.

The Candidus team is looking for participating greenhouses (ornamental and vegetable growers) that will have the opportunity to implement the adaptive lighting control technology. Each greenhouse grower will receive a total of $8,000 over three years:

  • $2,000 will be provided to cover initial installation costs
  • $2,000 at Year 1 to pay for facility use and to incentivize continued participation
  • $2,000 at Year 2 to pay for facility use and to incentivize continued participation
  • $2,000 at Year 3 to pay for facility use and to incentivize continued participation

For more information, contact Erico Mattos.


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