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Green walls: new application of horticultural lighting

30 Jun 2019

Figure 1. LED technology is taking over in glasshouses for indoor horticulture.Horticulture is the science and art of growing plants and plant cultivars. The word horticulture originates from two Latin words; hortus (which means "garden") and cultura (which means "cultivation"). Horticulture aims to improve qualities such as growth speed, yield, quality and nutritional value. Unlike agriculture which deals with the cycle of animal farming and strictly cultivates crops for human consumption, horticulture only involves the science of plant cultivation.

I have a keen interest in horticulture, and in particular, horticultural lighting. In the field of lighting, there have been rapid improvements in light emitting diodes (LEDs) within the last decade. These developments have seen substantial advancements in understanding, developing and providing efficient ways of cultivating plants indoors.

Indoor greenhouses go as far back in history to the late 1800's when Charles Lucien Bonaparte, a botanist, built the first modern greenhouse. Indoor horticulture is a growing field of study with various advantages, including the ability to control the environment where plants can be grown.

Various advantages of growing plants indoors include; control of light exposure duration, tailoring light intensities and spectral outputs to suit the individual plants and allowing plants to be cultivated in locations where previously not possible. Furthermore, indoor horticulture can control the characteristics of fruits and vegetables, such as a consistent taste and colour.

The above advantages remove the challenges faced by our changing natural climate and outdoor plant cultivation. As plants require light as their primary source of energy to promote growth through the process of photosynthesis, many studies have been conducted to determine those wavelengths to which plants are most responsive. Studies have shown plants respond to wavelengths within a relatively small band of light from 400nm (violet-blue) to 700nm (red) known as the Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR) region.


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Image:   Figure 1. LED technology is taking over in glasshouses for indoor horticulture.


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