Light is a powerful thing. For plants, it is their life force, much like oxygen is for humans. Photosynthesis means “create with light”. Plants use light to create, by converting light energy into chemical energy for cell growth. Plants use light energy to convert carbon dioxide and water into sugar and oxygen. For plants, light is life. Getting light right, for an indoor growing system, is critical.
Providing plants with adequate sunlight – or an accurate simulation of sunlight – ensures that plants can thrive. All the colors of the rainbow, and parts of the light spectrum that we cannot see with the human eye, the infrared (IR) and ultraviolet (UV) portions, are vital for healthy growth.
Professional greenhouse growers have seen a continuous improvement in light technology over the years, from fluorescent grow lights to High Intensity Discharge (HID) lights. These HID lights require a lot of power and generate a lot of extra heat. NASA began experimenting with LED or light emitting diodes in the 1980’s because of their extreme power efficiency, which was critical for space missions. Research by Dr. Raymond Wheeler at NASA uncovered the value of full spectrum lighting, including UV and IR, in producing higher levels of healthy antioxidants in lettuce and radishes. More recent research by Dr. Shuyang Zhen at Texas A&M University, Dr. Marc W. van Iersel at the University of Georgia, and Dr. Bruce Bugbee at Utah State University, uncovered an important link between the addition of far-red photons and improved yields. Together, these researchers are hoping to create a new standard for lighting that includes these vital far-red photons. At Eden, we are using the latest research to make sure our Grow Towers deliver this full spectrum of light for optimum growth and nutritional benefit.
There are good reasons to utilize LED lights, and specifically, full spectrum LED lights. LEDs require less power for the same amount of light output compared to HIDs, they generate far less heat, they have 3-5 times the life of HIDs, and their cost has dropped considerably in recent years. Energy savings can be dramatic for those switching from HID to LED lights, reaching 50% savings in many applications. And newer, full spectrum LED panels are designed to produce wavelengths including UV and IR, that more closely resemble real sunlight. Another benefit of using full spectrum lights, like the ones in our Eden
Grow Towers, is that they attract far fewer insects compared to the old “blurple” grow lights that had mostly red and blue LEDs.
Research continues on the complex relationship between specific portions of the light spectrum and the impact on plant growth and health. As we learn more and more, we continue to marvel at the amazing way plants are designed and the complexity of the processes that occur inside the plant cells. But we know this now – food plants can thrive and create all the valuable nutrients our bodies need when grown under full spectrum LED lights, making these lights a great substitute for the sun, while giving us the ability to grow our food indoors, out of the heat and elements, and away from harmful pests. So, if you are new to growing indoors, you can rest in the knowledge that your plants will love the “sunshine” from our LEDs on the Eden Grow Towers.
A special Thanks to Dr. Shuyang Zhen for reviewing this article.