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Using LED ‘light recipes’ to optimize crop yield and quality

May 11, 2014 | By Anthony Capkun

May 11, 2014 – Philips has partnered with Chicago, Ill.-based Green Sense Farms (GSF) to develop what it calls one of the largest indoor commercial farms using LED grow lights that are tailored to their specific crops. This farming model aims to allow Green Sense to harvest 20 to 25 times annually by using ‘light recipes’ optimized for their produce while using 85% less energy.

Philips says population growth, decrease in arable land and crop disasters are driving innovation of farming technologies to allow plants to grow without sunlight in indoor environments close to—or within—cities.

Plants use certain wavelengths of light more efficiently, and respond differently to different sets of wavelengths, explains Philips, adding that LED technology allows it to fine-tune and tailor-make ‘light recipes’ optimized to the needs of specific crops.

“GSF is using vertical hydroponic technology with Philips LED growing lights, enabling them to do what no other grower can do: provide a consistent amount of high-quality produce year-round,” said Udo van Slooten, director of horticultural lighting at Philips.

GSF has invested millions to renovate and equip a million-cubic foot indoor growing area consisting of 14, 25-ft tall growing towers in two climate-controlled grow rooms that use Philips LED solutions tailored to specific crops. This method also eliminates the need for harmful pesticides, fertilizers or preservatives, says Philips, resulting in produce that is organically grown and virtually chemical free.

“By growing our crops vertically [Photo 1], we are able to pack more plants per acre than we would have in a field farm, which results in more harvests per year,” said Robert Colangelo, founding farmer/president of Green Sense Farms.

GSF’s vision is to build farms at institutions, such as college campuses, hospital complexes and military bases that can serve large worker populations, reducing the miles their food travels and improving freshness.

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