Light-emitting diode (LED) lighting is making sweeping changes worldwide in terms of how lighting is used for the workplace, on the street, in sports complexes, in the home and how food is being grown.
Philips took horticultural LED lighting to the next level with a project involving two Japanese vertical farm customers using its GreenPower LED lights. The results of the project were announced this week following a 14-month trial with Innovatus Inc. and a 10-month trial at Delicious Cook Company Ltd.
Vertical farms are controlled facilities where vegetables and herbs are grown in stacked layers without the use of daylight. This method allows farmers to grow plants with the right light recipe, the ideal temperature, the right amount of water and CO2, and the best growing medium. Vertical farming lends itself to being cleaner because it does not involve pesticides and the yields are generally higher with less waste.
Philips says Japanese consumers are looking for a diverse variety of foods that are safe and nutritious while still being reasonably priced. “Vertical farms are an ideal way to meet this growing demand for safe, fresh food, especially in a country with highly urbanized areas where space is at a premium,” says Udo van Slooten, business leader for Philips Lighting’s horticulture business. Not surprisingly, Japan has become one of the fastest-growing markets for horticultural LED systems.
The first trial project for Philips’ LED lighting was Innovatus, which houses one of the largest, completely closed-environment, vertical farms in the world using horticultural LED lighting. The trial began in March of 2015 and now the company is producing 12,000 heads of lettuce per day.
Hitoshi Wada, director at Innovatus, says the company uses Philips’ GreenPower LED system to grow five varieties of lettuces, mainly frilled lettuce, green leaf and romaine. The process uses only a fraction of the water compared to lettuces grown in open fields. “The quality and control it has given us with our lettuce crops has enabled us to get lettuces to Tokyo supermarkets in just two hours after shipment,” Wada says. “Furthermore, as the lettuces are grown and packaged in an extremely hygienic environment, there is no need to wash them before eating.”
The second trial began in October of 2015 with Delicious Cook in its city farm in Narashino City in the Chiba Prefecture in Kanto, Japan. Delicious Cook uses its GreenPower LED production module to grow edible chrysanthemums and coriander for the company’s processed foods.
The 80-square-meter facility has three layers in a total cultivation area and allows Delicious Cook to try out horticultural light recipes in order to increase yield and differentiate crop tastes, the company says. Delicious Cook has been changing its strategy from using externally produced food to food grown safely indoors. The switch to LED lighting inside its farm allows the company to produce food year-round and avoid sourcing it from external suppliers, the company says.
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