PORTAGE, Ind. — Royal Philips, a leader in lighting, has
partnered with Green Sense Farms, a Chicago-area commercial grower, to develop
one of the largest indoor commercial farms using LED grow lights tailored to
their specific crops.
This innovative farming model allows them to harvest 20 to
25 times a year by using “light recipes” optimized for their produce, using 85
percent less energy. The result will be an increase in crop yields and reduced
operating costs, while providing consumers with locally grown, fresh vegetables
throughout the year.
The United Nations predicts the world’s population will grow
by some 2.5 billion people by 2050, and 80 percent of the world’s population
will live in cities. At the same time, 80 percent of the land that is suitable
for growing food is already in use.
Moreover, extreme weather patterns across the globe have
devastated crops, creating higher food prices, and as consumers become more
conscious of how their food is produced, it is becoming more difficult for
farmers to keep up with urban growth.
This is driving innovation of new farming technologies that
allow plants to grow without sunlight in indoor environments close to or within
Plants’ sensitivity to light is different from the human
eye, so plants use certain wavelengths of light more efficiently and respond in
a different way to different sets of wavelengths.
Philips understands this phenomenon having been active in
horticultural lighting since 1936, but the advent of LED technology has enabled
the fine tuning of tailor-made light recipes optimized to the needs of specific
Working with research institutes, universities, growers and
partners such as Hort Americas, which supported the installation, Philips is
able to meet a grower’s unique needs. Also, because LEDs run at cooler
temperatures they can be placed closer to the plants and optimally positioned,
ensuring complete uniform illumination of the plant.
“Different plant types have different light needs and
working with forward-thinking growers like GSF, Philips is building up a
database of ‘light recipes’ for different plant varieties,” said Udo van
Slooten, director of horticultural lighting at Philips.
“GSF is using vertical hydroponic technology with Phillips
LED growing lights, enabling them to do what no other grower can do — provide a
consistent amount of high-quality produce, year round. As the leader in
lighting, it is important for us to use lighting in new and innovative ways that
better serve the communities in which we live, work and play.”
GSF invested millions to renovate and equip a
million-cubic-foot indoor growing area consisting of 14 25-foot-tall growing
towers in two climate-controlled grow rooms, which use Philips energy-efficient
This method also eliminates the need for harmful pesticides,
fertilizers or preservatives, resulting in produce that is organically grown and
virtually chemical free.
“Through our joint R&D efforts with Philips, we continue
to innovate and perfect LED lighting for indoor growing systems that can
maximize plant photosynthesis, while minimizing energy use for the most
delicious and nutritious vegetables grown in a sustainable manner,” said Robert
Colangelo, founding farmer and president of Green Sense Farms.
“By growing our crops vertically, we are able to pack more
plants per acre than we would have in a field farm, which results in more
harvests per year. We produce little waste, no agricultural runoff and minimal
greenhouse gasses because the food is grown where it is consumed.”