Farming is what originally allowed humanity to leap from subsistence living to form vast civilizations. Our ability to cultivate plants has improved steadily over the years, but we are seeing one of the largest agricultural revolutions in history occurring at this very moment. Indoor horticulture has become increasingly popular and profitable for many cultivators and it offers unique advantages that cannot be found when growing plants outdoors.
Indoor horticulture is where crops are grown in a controlled indoor environment using artificial lighting. This allows cultivators to harvest year-round as they are not limited by the seasons and weather conditions of the outdoors. This style of agriculture uses less water and nutrients per plant than a normal crop would require. Additionally, the controlled environment means they don’t have to rely on potentially dangerous chemicals and pesticides to prevent disease and insects from ruining crops. This adds a level of stability to crop production that has never been seen before in human history. This style of agriculture has proven to be extremely effective for countries like the Netherlands, who despite having relatively little arable land are the largest exporter of food of all EU member countries.
Indoor agriculture had its drawbacks, however. Due to its use of artificial lighting, traditionally extremely powerful high-pressure sodium (HPS) grow lights, growing indoors uses a lot of electricity which can make it less cost-effective in certain areas. That is all changing with the advent of LED grow lights. Companies like VOLT Grow are now producing for the first time LED grow lights that can match the high light output needed for agriculture of traditional light sources while using over 25% less energy. Light output for grow lights is measured using PPF. Their FL-1 Grow Light for example has a PPF of 2000 µmol/s using only 720 watts of power and will be able to operate for over 5-years. An HPS light producing a similar amount of light would require 1000 watts of electricity and needs it’s $70 bulb replaced every 8-12 months. This enables indoor cultivators to reduce their operating costs without sacrificing the yield they receive from each crop.
Efficiency is just one piece of the puzzle. LED lights also offer the benefit of improved light quality. With LEDs, companies like VOLT Grow are able to fine-tune the spectrum of light being produced to one that is most effective for growing plants. They can even tailor the light spectrum to enhance characteristics such as larger leaves on lettuce plants, better-colored tomatoes, or higher THC and CBD content in cannabis plants. VOLT Grow increase their value over other lighting companies even further by including accessories like adjustable mounting hardware and dimming control with every fixture they offer.
With the demand for the highest-quality plants for food and medicine increasing every year, indoor cultivation using LED lighting is looking like an extremely promising route to addressing that need.