Purdue University researchers have designed two simple LED lighting strategies to increase yield and reduce energy costs for the vertical farming sector of indoor agriculture. Their work is part of OptimIA (Optimizing Indoor Agriculture). The project, led by Michigan State University, includes collaborators at Purdue, the University of Arizona, and Ohio State University. OptimIA is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative.
The industry has exponentially expanded over the previous months/years. Still, the recent energy crisis has shed light on the prominence energy costs represent in most high-tech indoor farming solutions today. Purdue University researchers Ph.D. candidate Fatemeh Sheibani and professor Cary Mitchell in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture in Purdue’s College of Agriculture capitalize on LED lighting’s unique properties to propose a close-canopy-lighting strategy which, they believe, could lower energy consumption and thus the underlying operational expenditure of most indoor farming businesses.
Because LEDs beam in all directions, like the sun, close-canopy lighting functions. Significant light traveling at broad angles over the plants at typical plant/light separation distances completely misses them. But, when closer separations occur, plants may capture light that would otherwise be lost. According to the researchers, light is wasted in most indoor farming operations. Despite illuminating the plants, it also illustrates the hallways, which represent significant wasted lighting and energy, considering that LED can represent up to 60% of the OPEX of specific operations.
“If we employ LEDs properly, we can increase canopy photon collection efficiency,” according to Sheibani. “The percentage of photons that reach a canopy’s photosynthesizing machinery is called canopy photon capture efficiency.”
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Fatemeh Sheibani, a Ph.D. candidate in horticulture and landscape architecture, examines lettuce plants in a controlled environment chamber using LED lighting. Sheibani’s research focuses on finding the best strategy for using LEDs in vertical farming to maximize crop yield and decrease production costs associated with lighting. (Purdue Agricultural Communications photo/Jessica Kerkoff)
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