Vertical farming is a type of indoor agriculture that involves crops being cultivated on panels situated on top of each other. This type of farming allows the farmer to grow a lot of crops in a very small space.
Vertical farming is predominantly done indoors, but today you’ll find a few farmers who need extra space deploying this technique in open-air spaces. The yield from this endeavor is more than double that of conventional farming practices.
Having a vertical farm indoors enables farmers to control some key variables to the way crops develop. Some of these variables include weather conditions such as humidity, precipitation, and lighting.
With regard to lighting, indoor farms can use vertical farming lighting as a source of nourishment and light for their crops. But, first, let’s discuss the type of vertical lights available in the market and the fundamental aspects of the bulbs used in vertical farming.
Which Kinds of Bulbs Are Used in Vertical Farming?
When you cultivate crops indoors, you can use lighting via bulbs which can be controlled. The lights used in vertical lighting can replicate the sun’s light, which makes them ideal for crop production. Some of the bulbs used in vertical farming include:
LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs are the most recent variant of bulbs to be used in vertical farming. However, LEDs have been in use in other sectors for quite some time now.
The uptake of these bulbs is on the rise because they are durable and produce a lot of light. Also, these bulbs use a fraction of the energy used by most other bulbs. Therefore, they help farmers save on energy costs.
Fluorescent bulbs are among the most used bulbs in vertical farming today. Fluorescent bulbs are made in two variants, namely TFLs (tubular fluorescents) and CFLs (compact fluorescents)
Compared to conventional bulbs, fluorescent bulbs have the upper hand because they tend to save more energy. Fluorescent bulbs have a starter that controls the current, and the tubes are held in place by a massive frame.
This means fluorescent have a downside in that they take up more space and are a bit tricky to maintain. However, this does not take away the benefits of fluorescent bulbs; they are still some of the best bulbs for vertical farming.
Metal Halide (MH) bulbs are very similar to HPS bulbs because they also emit heat. MH bulbs are ideally the better bulbs to use during the first half of crop growth, regularly termed the vegetative stage.
High-pressure sodium bulbs are among the most energy-consuming bulbs that have been around for quite some time now. Its estimated HPS bulbs have been deployed in indoor farming endeavors for over 75 years.
When compared to luminous bulbs, HPS bulbs emit more heat. In addition, HPS bulbs produce an amber color which is an ideal component in the crops blooming stage. The color produced by these bulbs is also vital for other stages in the growth of crops.
The Fundamental Aspects of Bulbs Used in Vertical Farming Include:
The Bulbs Used in Vertical Farming Should Have A Purple Hue
If you’ve ever seen photos of vertical farms, you may have noticed that the lighting in the rooms that crops are kept emits a purple hue. This is by no means a coincidence. The purple hue is linked to the general productivity of vertically farmed crops.
Research has revealed that crops respond best to red and blue colors. Combine these two shades, and you get the color purple. Crops responding best to the color purple began in the sea millions of years ago, where crops were exposed to blue and red wavelengths that successfully breached the deep waters.
Selecting the Right Bulb for Your Farm Involves A Lot of Decisions
For vertical farmers picking the correct bulb for their crops is a painstaking process. All the bulbs used in vertical farming have their advantages and disadvantages. The various bulbs are also ideal for different stages in a crop’s growth cycle.
Farmers also need to make a decision based on the size of their operations, the crops they intend to cultivate, and the costs involved in purchasing and maintaining bulbs.
All Bulbs have Their Shortcomings
While most bulbs are ideal for vertical farming operations and have many benefits, it’s vital to understand that all these bulbs have their shortcomings as well. For instance, some of them, such as LEDs, are very expensive to purchase.
Also, the colors produced by vertical farming bulbs can hide diseases and pests in crops such that the farmer may notice these issues when it’s too late. Also, farmers can suffer from visual impairments because of the light emitted by some bulbs such as HPS.
LEDs Are the Ideal Bulbs for Vertical Farming
LED bulbs have become the ideal bulbs for vertical farming because LEDs are energy efficient. Studies have revealed that LED bulbs can be at least 50% more energy efficient than other bulbs, including Metal Halide bulbs and HPS bulbs.
HPS and Metal Halide are two of the most commonly used bulbs in vertical farming. Today the lifespan of an LED is rated at about fifty thousand hours. When you convert this into years, it means that an LED bulb can continually serve you for six consecutive years.
Most vertical farmers place their crops in panels that are stacked together to save on space. In some situations, a farmer will stack up to a dozen panels on top of each other.
This makes LEDs ideal for such spaces, and they can be installed within these panels without causing harm to the crops because they don’t emit a lot of heat.
All in all, you have a lot of options to choose from with regard to the kinds of lights you can buy for your vertical farm, as illustrated above. It will come down to the capital you’ve set aside for the bulbs and the scale of cultivation done on your vertical farm.