How will we grow food in the future?

Why is horticulture lighting important?

The world’s population is growing. The available farmland is diminishing. The urbanization is increasing, and with it the transportation distances and expenditures. The ability to provide enough food will become a challenge in the next 30 years. Traditional agriculture will not be able to provide the people in future cities with enough healthy nourishment.

We are in need for new and better systems to meet the food supply demand.

Urban farming and indoor vertical farming are very good examples of such solutions. Growing tomatoes, melons, lettuce and the like in the midst of big cities, and these plants will need to be fed as well, primarily with water and light. Compared to conventional agricultural solutions, urban farming achieves significant increases in energy efficiency and can, thus, help vegetable and fruit cultivation in the metropolises of the world to become viable.

What is horticulture lighting?

Horticulture lighting is used to support, increase and enable the growth of plants by illuminating them with artificial light. LED Light is a very efficient way and upcoming solution for this application!

Horticulture lighting is used -

  • as supplemental lighting: To supplement natural daylight and raise grow light levels in order to enhance photosynthesis and thereby improve growth and quality of plants in greenhouses
  • as photoperiodic lighting: To control the light period by extending the natural day length with artificial light
  • for cultivation without daylight: To totally replace daylight with artificial light for ultimate climate control

How does light affect plant growth?

  • Light quantity
    The amount of light affects the photosynthesis process in the plant. This process is a photochemical reaction within the chloroplasts of the plant cells in which CO2 is converted into carbohydrate under the influence of the light energy.
  • Light quality regarding spectral composition of the light
    The spectral composition of the different wavelength regions (blue, green, yellow, red, far red or invisible e.g. UV or IR) is important for the grows, shape, development and flowering (photomorphogenesis) of the plant. For the photosynthesis, the blue and red regions are most important.
  • Light duration
    The timing / light duration which is also called photoperiod is mainly affecting the flowering of the plants. The flowering time can be influenced by controlling the photoperiod.

Every plant has its own light requirements, therefore plant-specific ‘light recipes’ are being researched extensively. By using the right light, it is possible to influence the development of plants, from their growth patterns to their appearance and nutrient content.

What are the optimum wavelengths?

Horticulture lighting is focusing on LEDs with mainly 450nm, 660nm and 730nm wavelength.

  • The 450nm and the 660nm are providing the energy for the plant to life and grow. The amount of light is not measured in lumen but in amount of photons. The common unit in horticulture lighting is µmol/s in the range of 400-700 (photosynthetically active region).
  • The 730nm is necessary to control the growth of the plant.

Key to find the best light recipes are self-learning software algorithms that create and optimize digital plant models in order to cultivate tailor-made salads, herbs, vegetables and fruits.

We work with researchers and growers at the forefront of the controlled-environment agricultural revolution to provide products and systems that optimize crop development.

"Our teams are excited to continue learning and refining its setup before ultimately bringing this exclusive solution to market within the next year.”

Steve Graves, Strategic Program Manager of Urban & Digital Farming, OSRAM Innovation, Americas Region

Horticultural lighting solutions, systems and components that we offer already today

Main applications: Horticultural light and sensing solutions

People want fresh and nutritious vegetables, beautiful floral arrangements, and fragrant herbs all year round, possibly even at the touch of a button with the latest trends in e-commerce. Fortunately, the art and science of growing plants is evolving with new digital and smart technologies for vertical farms, hydroponic greenhouses, and small gardening systems, enabling the optimization of crop development and farms to sprout in big cities and even in people’s homes.

Ongoing light research, sensor technology, and cloud computing allow horticulture professionals to meet the increasing demands of today’s consumers, and provide everything from LED grow lights to complete solutions.

Link to an overview of our horticulture lighting applications Learn more about PHYTOFY RL, the tunable LED horticultural lighting system used by the NASA

Commercial Horticulture powered by LED grow lights by Fluence Bioengineering, Inc.

By acquiring Fluence Bioengineering, Inc. in 2018 we took an important step in our quest to become the leading provider of intelligent plant growth solutions. “Fluence is opening the floodgates to a huge future market,” said Stefan Kampmann, CTO of OSRAM Licht AG. “Its extensive knowledge of the horticulture market and possible applications, combined with OSRAM’s expertise in lighting technologies, sensors and connectivity, will position us as a leading horticultural solutions provider.”

LED-based solutions from Fluence help growers meet their yield and sustainability goals by increasing harvests up to 25 percent, reducing energy costs by as much as 50 percent and, through the targeted use of light, improving the quality and nutritional content of plants.

More about Fluence - one of the world’s leading suppliers of smart grow lighting

LED components for horticulture lighting

OSRAM Opto Semiconductors offers a broad Horticulture LED portfolio for 450 nm (deep blue), 660 nm (hyper red) and 730 nm (far red). Our OSLON® family includes the important wavelengths in three radiation angles 80°, 120° and 150° to support provide the perfect lighting for all types of plants and flowers, allowing to adapt the light exactly to the needs of various crops.

More specific information about LED components for horticulture lighting

Vertical growth - From farm to fork

Background story

“We are witnessing the digitalization and automation of agriculture,” says Timo Bongartz, responsible for Smart Farming at OSRAM. “By growing lettuce and vegetables in a controlled environment indoors, it is possible to produce them all year round and irrespective of geographical location.” Alongside water, nutrients, and temperature, light is a decisive factor in a closed system. By controlling the light, it is possible to increase yields, reduce growing times, and influence the taste, appearance, and nutritional content of plants. “We can influence the vitamin content of tomatoes through changes in the light spectrum, or control how mild or strong basil tastes,” Bongartz adds.

Read the whole story: "Vertical growth"

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