Welcome to the LEDs Magazine Horticultural Lighting Newsletter for Nov. 4, 2019. Argh, argh, Daylight Savings Time departed here in the US. After a week on the road, the extra hour of sleep was okay. But Sunday evening came with darkness at 5:00 PM. Alas, I complained in another recent newsletter about California not already being approved for permanent Daylight Savings Time, so I shouldn’t revisit that topic.
We should, however, discuss our HortiCann Light + Tech Conference that took place last week. It wasn’t pleasant arriving to Denver after nearly a foot of October snow and temperature around 0°F. I, of course, arrived from Southern California with no waterproof shoes and little in the way of warm clothes. Certain of our US leaders probably assumed yet again that the early snow was proof that global warming is a fallacy. Really, the weather was a good reminder for why we need controlled environment agriculture (CEA) such as greenhouses including supplemental lighting and vertical farms with complete dependence on solid-state lighting (SSL). And without efficient sources such as LEDs, we will not be able to feed the projected global population expansion going forward.
Exhaustive coverage of HortiCann will come in our January/February issue of the magazine. Meanwhile, I wrote a brief news piece hitting a few of the highlights.The opportunity in the horticultural lighting sector for LED and SSL players is huge and will get huger — excuse my grammar. And it’s not just an opportunity. It’s essentially a societal mandate. We had better figure out this agricultural technology stuff, or more people will go hungry in the future than do now. If you missed the conference, you should catch the next one. I hate to brag, but the day was incredibly informative.
We did also hear a fair amount about cannabis. With legalization as a growing trend, that cultivar is receiving a disproportionate amount of press. But what we learned is that it’s among the most difficult of plants to please. Still, it may offer the most profit potential. Stay tuned for that feature article I promised.
The real gotcha with horticultural lighting is how simple it seems and how little we really know. When I wrote a feature article about LEDs in horticultural lighting applications back in 2011, I thought I had grasped the bulk of the science involved. Monochromatic LEDs serendipitously had aligned with chlorophyll absorption peaks of plants, so SSL could deliver the inherent energy efficiency of LED technology and avoid energy emission in spectrum outside those narrow bands. Engineers like myself pride ourselves on figuring things out and I thought that I got the plant stuff. And boy, how wrong I was. Our latest conference revealed that researchers continue to try and figure things out.
For example, most LED-based horticultural lighting products today utilize drivers that linearly supply constant current to the LED sources and therefore a continuous light output. But in many SSL applications, it’s advantageous to multiplex the LEDs at a high frequency. The human eye will perceive the multiplexed (rapidly turning the LEDs on and off) LEDs as delivering continuous light. But what about plants? Our conferences have made it clear that plants share little in common with human eyes relative to the perception of light.
We have a blog post for you on the topic of pulsed light from researcher Jurga Miliauskiene, who recently worked as a visiting scientist at the Lighting Enabled Systems & Applications (LESA) Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Multiplexing LEDs might deliver additional energy savings in horticultural lighting. We need scientists such as Miliauskiene to figure that out.
Our next live event will be upon us before you know it. Plan on attending Strategies in Light this coming February in San Diego, CA. There will be three days of LED and SSL learning opportunities. And horticultural lighting will be a prominent topic.
Please note my relatively new email address below. Always feel free to contact me to discuss content we post or to pitch a contributed article.
- Maury Wright, (858) 748-6785, firstname.lastname@example.org