Planting Tips for Facility Agriculture with LED Grow Lights

1. Optimize light intensity with LED grow lights with adjustable controls

Obviously, the grower should choose an LED spectrum, and one that has been validated for a particular crop. For many crops, the industry has developed their corresponding spectra, which can be selected from a database of more than 150 validated spectra. When high pressure sodium lamps are replaced by LEDs, the total light intensity within a facility typically increases significantly. In this case, being able to adjust the control of LED intensity is useful: with adjustable units, growers can respond to crop, weather conditions and energy demands without compromising on the uniformity of light. Another benefit of dimmable LEDs is that they are approximately 10% more efficient when dimmed, reducing energy consumption per lighting unit.

2. Crop physiological activity is the key

Allowing crops to absorb all the light and neglecting to create the right environment for them to grow is a common mistake in facility farming. The assimilates produced by photosynthesis should be distributed by plants to where we want them to go, usually fruits and flowers. If proper measures are not taken, crop transpiration may be too low, keeping plant temperatures too low, or causing insufficient uptake of fertilizer nutrients.

3. Pay attention to plant status

For optimal growth, plants should always be the focus of attention. Plants will eventually show the degree to which they convert the light provided into growth and development, so growers should pay close attention to crop water absorption, growth rate, etc., and adjust the climate accordingly to maintain crop balance. For many crops, growers need more control over their plants under LED grow lights in order for them to use photosynthesis in the right way. For example, consider water balance, pruning strategies, and adjust soluble salt concentrations or nutritional formulas if needed, among other things.

4. Barriers control plant temperature

In many cases, growers with temperature-controlled barriers next to shading barriers are more flexible and have better control of moisture and plant temperature than growers with only shading barriers. Using temperature-controlled barriers to control plant temperature has great advantages, especially for growers who are used to high-intensity HPS lighting. In the case of low or even negative outside temperature, they do not realize the influence of thermal radiation generated by lamps. In the case of LED lighting, it may be a good option to turn off the temperature-controlled barrier completely; this will limit the amount of heat the crop emits to the atmosphere, while air exchange and dehumidification can continue.

5. Cultivation according to the amount of light

When higher light intensities are applied, the luminaires themselves only limit and affect planting to a lesser extent. Especially in winter, artificial lighting will bring a steady amount of light. Therefore, calculating the amount of available light can create a stable cultivation environment to ensure the continuity of light. Especially when heat and amount of light can be controlled separately with LED lighting, lighting is no longer a bottleneck. As a grower, you should still be aware that a certain amount of light is required for crop growth and production potential; otherwise, the plant is overloaded and becomes unbalanced, making it difficult to recover in winter. Therefore, it is critical to determine planting density, harvest weight, harvest stage and pruning strategy based on realistic light levels.

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