LED lighting is a rapidly changing field that is sparking excitement everywhere, from general lighting to entertainment lighting even to horticultural lighting! With massive energy saving features, long lifetimes, and zero toxicity, LEDs are beginning to become prominent in the indoor growing world.
The advent of densely packed, high intensity, horticultural LED technology is giving indoor growers opportunities that were not previously available. Due to the low heat output of LEDs, growers can now increase light intensity by closing the distance between lights and plants as well as allowing for the isolation and mixing of wavelengths. Growers can now control the wavelength combinations and lighting regiments that they administer to their plants. Plants respond favorably to specific wavelengths in a light spectrum. However, the light that traditional bulbs produce is unbalanced. Wavelengths of light that are useless to plants are emitted from these bulbs, limiting their efficiency. Much of this extra light results in more heat, which is not beneficial to plant growth. In contrast, LEDs have a great advantage in that they have the ability to produce wavelength specific light. Because each LED emits a specific wavelength, growers can now mix various LED chips to optimize lights for plant growth. Although we know that plants benefit mostly from the blue and red parts of the spectrum, there are specific wavelengths that are ideal for plant growth. Different ratios of red and blue light will affect different types of chlorophyll (the main center of photosynthesis). Not only that, but plants need different wavelengths during different phases of growth. For example, plants benefit from the red spectrum during the flowering phase.
Results will inevitably vary from crop to crop, and as this is an active area of research, scientists are discovering more everyday not only which wavelengths benefit plants, but during what time of day or which growing phase to use them. Aside from cutting down costs, this gives the grower one less task to worry about. With more research, growers will better know which spectrums can accelerate or slow down growth, improve yields, or morph the shape of different plants.
The possibilities here are endless and it will be exciting to see what the future holds for this research.