The most important thing in vertical farming is the vertical farming light. Without proper lighting, the plants cannot survive or produce the optimal yield.
If you want to make your vertical farming successful, you need to ensure you have the best vertical farming light that is suitable for the crop and area. If you are new to vertical farming systems, you are in the right place. We will discuss vertical farming light in-depth and tell you how you can choose the best one.
What is Vertical Farming?
Vertical farming is basically growing crops in vertically stacked layers. You can imagine it like multiple farms, and each of them is on a vertically inclined surface, one above another.
There are multiple racks in the grow area. Each rack has soil, hydroponics, aeroponics, or whatever technology the farmer uses. There can be multiple crops on each rack, and the farming can be done throughout the years. The farming is done in a controlled environment.
Vertical farming is in the limelight because it does not require too much space compared to traditional farming. Many indoor farmers are adopting vertical farming because of the space constraints and increasing the production per square area.
There are tons of vertical farming benefits, but the first and most important benefit is space-saving. You might have heard that it gives more production per unit area. For instance, if there is a 100 square feet area and you have five racks, then it means the per unit yield will be multiplied by five times. Thus, vertical farming requires less land and offers more production.
The population of the world is increasing day by day, and there will be more food and land required. Therefore, vertical farming is the best solution, and indoor farmers are going towards this technology.
Due to the controlled environment, we can go with vertical farming even in the areas where farming can’t be done traditionally, such as deserts, mountains, and packed cities. It is the need for future farming.
Why Does Vertical Farming Need Special Lighting?
Vertical farming is much different than traditional or horizontal farming. Therefore, it requires a special indoor vertical farming light.
Simple, isn’t it? Let’s understand it with examples.
In horizontal framing, the crops are over the ground, and the lights are hung through the supports from the roof. There is only one array of lights required. The whole farm has lights wherever you have plants. This arrangement is pretty simple.
But when you arrange the plants in multiple racks, one over the other, you need to arrange a vertical farming light system for each rack. This means that if there are five racks, then there will be five lighting arrays as well. Each rack will have its own vertical farming light system above it.
As there are multiple racks, you cannot rely on one lighting array near the roof. It won’t be able to provide enough lighting to all the plants except the top stack. This is the reason you need a special lighting system and lights to give enough lighting to every plant present in the grow area.
Moreover, the distance between the plants and lights can easily be adjusted in horizontal farming. But in vertical farming, the height is limited as there are multiple stacks one over another. Thus, you cannot use those lights that emit too much heat. Due to minimal clearance, the lights should be chosen with care as too much heat will burn your plants and create water scarcity.
Things to Consider for Vertical Farming Light
The first thing that you need to consider is the efficiency of the vertical farming light you are buying. If the efficiency is better, the lights consume less electricity, which is quite beneficial for a commercial setup. Moreover, due to high efficiency, the emission of heat is also reduced.
Make sure to check the efficiency of the light while buying. Reliable manufacturers always mention the efficiency and other metrics of their vertical farming light.
Quality or Guarantee
The next important thing is the quality. Your vertical farm is for commercial purposes, so you will always want a long-lasting vertical farming light that can secure your investment.
You can also check the guarantee and minimum lifespan of the light to get a better idea. It will help you calculate when you will need new lights for the indoor farm.
Light uniformity is another important aspect. The lights should provide a uniform light as required because too much light, as well as the scarcity of light, is dangerous for the plants.
Plus, it is necessary to check the flux level, or PPFD should be checked to understand whether the light is suitable for plants or not. It gives a better idea of how much light the plant will receive.
Number of Fixtures
You also need to calculate the number of fixtures. Depending on the area that a single fixture can cover, you need to calculate the number of fixtures. If one fixture is capable of covering a wide area, then you will need fewer fixtures.
Different plants require different levels of light. Some need less intense light, while some need more. Thus, it depends on the plants you are growing in the area.
According to your plan, you need to select a suitable vertical farming light that can provide enough light levels that the plants require. It will ensure the proper growth and development of the plants.
Otherwise, your plants will suffer light scarcity, which results in the smaller size of the flowers or crop, and in the worst case, it leads to the death of the plants.
The spectrum of light also affects the growth of the plants. Different plants need different spectrums at different stages of their growth. New growers usually think that plants need light only in the visible range, but it is not true.
You might be familiar with photosynthesis. It is a process by which a plant produces its own food by converting water and CO2 into glucose in the presence of sunlight.
But there is another process that very few people know about. It is called photomorphogenesis. It is a process that determines the shape and growth of the plant due to sunlight. Thus, your plants also respond to the light spectrum and grow according to the available spectrums.
Photosynthesis requires the visible spectrum, which is in the range of 400-700nm, but photomorphogenesis requires a wider range of color bands, which is 260-780 nm. This range also includes ultraviolet and infrared radiation.
Therefore, if you want your plants to grow well and have the optimal size and shape, you need to take care of the light spectrum. You can check the spectrum in the specifications of the vertical farming light.
Benefits of LED Grow Lights in Vertical Farming
LED grow lights are usually preferred for vertical farming, and there are various reasons for that. In this part, we will discover why LED grow lights are used by looking at their benefits.
The first benefit of LED grow lights is their efficiency. LED grow lights have the highest efficiency compared to other grow lights, such as CFLs, incandescent bulbs, and HIDs. The efficiency can be 85%, and it is expected to be better in the future due to advancements in technology.
Due to high efficiency, the electricity bill is greatly reduced as most of the electrical energy is converted into light.Only a little portion of the electricity is converted into heat. Therefore, LED lights do not emit too much heat, and they are much safer than other grow lights.
Due to these benefits, an LED grow light is the perfect vertical farming light. It can be placed in different racks.
Brightness adjustment is quite necessary for vertical farming systems. You can’t grow one crop for the whole year, so you need to adjust the brightness according to the plants. In most LED grow lights, the brightness can be easily adjusted through the knob.
When you use LED grow lights, there is no need for a large clearance between the plants and lights as you can adjust the brightness as required. It means LED grow lights can easily be placed in different racks of vertical indoor farming having suitable clearance.
LED grow lights can offer different spectrums, and you can select the desired spectrum you need. But keep in mind that not all LED lights have this feature. You need to check it before you buy.
For instance, Spectrum Y offers different spectrums. You can select the desired one according to the stage of growth and type of plant.
For indoor vertical farming, daisy chaining is required. In daisy chaining, you can connect multiple light fixtures to a control unit. It allows you to control all lights without any hassle. You can arrange the LED lights in daisy chaining for each rack. From the control unit, you can change the brightness, spectrum, and other things at once. There is no need to change the settings of each light.