Could LEDs end World Hunger?


tumblr_inline_n8ga1cqRuf1qzgziy Courtesy of GE Lighting

A newly opened indoor farm in Japan has been built with LEDs that emit light at wavelengths optimised for plant growth.

Shigeharu Shimamura, a plant physiologist, along with GE Lighting made the LED plant farm. The indoor farm is 2,300 square metres which makes it the world's largest indoor LED-lit farm.

The indoor farm is more productive than a traditional outdoor farm in the following ways:

  • Produce waste is at 50% for traditional farms and is only 10% at this farm
  • Lettuce grows 2.5 times faster in the LED farm
  • The indoor farm produces 10,000 lettuce heads a day
  • 1% of water used on traditional farms is needed for the indoor farm

The LED lamps let Shimamura adjust the day and night cycles, allowing them to photosynthesise during the day and respire at night. Shimamura said: "What we need to do is not just setting up more days and nights. We want to achieve the best combination of photosynthesis during the day and breathing at night by controlling the lighting and the environment."

tumblr_inline_n8ga07E0Jy1qzgziy Courtesy of GE Lighting

GE provided the LED lamps and has worked on the concept with Shimamura since 2011. Testing began in 2012, and the final design was laid out in MArch 2013. After testing, GE redesigned the lights to be thinner, more uniform and tolerate the humid conditions inside the factory. Manager for GE Lighting Japan, Tomoaki Kimura, said about the redesigned lights: "What we need to do is not just setting up more days and nights. We want to achieve the best combination of photosynthesis during the day and breathing at night by controlling the lighting and the environment."

tumblr_inline_n8ga3qzzLs1qzgziy Courtesy of GE Lighting - Shigeharu Shimamura

Shimamura said: "I knew how to grow good vegetables biologically and I wanted to integrate that knowledge with hardware to make things happen. Finally, we are about to start the real agircultural industrialization."

More of these indoor plant farms are planned to be built in Hong Kong and Russia.


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