Farming is an ancient practice, yet one which is also eminently advantaged by the emergence of new technologies.
For most of human history, we have done our best to harness the elements and control how crops are grown to ensure consistency. And one of the latest breakthroughs is with the provision of light itself.
Here is a look at the lighting tech revolution that is causing a seismic shift in our ability to feed the human race.
Seasonal simulations are achievable indoors
The problem with farming outdoors is that there are just so many variables involved. You can perfect so much of the process, but one storm or one cold snap can ruin your best laid plans.
Indoor farming is now achievable thanks to grow lights for food, which means we can shield plants from climatic interference and nurture them in a controlled environment.
The main challenge that has been overcome with cutting edge hardware and software is simulating the kinds of lighting conditions that crops require for optimal growth.
We can now recreate the seasonal patterns of daylight hours in an indoor setting, which means that the natural rhythms and expectations of crops are met precisely.
So rather than overstimulating them with light and causing complications in terms of things such as taste and nutrient content, we can replicate what happens in nature with no downsides.
This has the added benefit of making it less labor-intensive to manage indoor farming setups. So much of this can be automated that it becomes more cost-effective as well as more productive.
And of course this technology can be adapted to whatever crop needs to be grown, from those that need lots of light to those that require just a little. Thus flexibility is also part and parcel of how artificial lighting is used in modern farming.
Urban locations & higher densities are improving sustainability
Another of the concerns with traditional farming methods is that they require a lot of resources to attain the desired end results, and also involve shipping produce over long distances in order to get it onto the tables of consumers.
This results in a lot of harmful emissions, which contribute to climate change while also slowing down the supply chain.
The lighting technology which enables indoor farming also means that food production can occur in areas where it would previously have been impossible, such as right in the heart of towns and cities.
Having crops grown in the same facilities where they are then processed and turned into other foodstuffs is eminently efficient and thus more sustainable.
Furthermore because indoor farming allows crops to be packed more densely together, less land needs to be dedicated to agriculture elsewhere. In regions of the globe where land is in short supply and thus expensive, the role of lighting in enabling indoor farming is even more impactful.
Shelf life is increasing
Lastly and perhaps most impressively of all, lighting technology is now used to increase the longevity of the food crops we stock in stores, all without needing to resort to genetic engineering.
By knowing how light interacts with fruits and vegetables over the course of their life cycles, we can also alter the types of light we expose to them after they have been picked and are packed or stored ahead of sale.
LEDs are prominently used throughout all of the aforementioned farming and supply methods for food crops, and their efficiency compared with older incandescent and fluorescent lighting is really the cherry on the cake when tackling this topic.
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