Farming Under Artificial Light as a Response to Future Food Demands

Ines Marjanovic

Agronomy Expert

Outdoor farming and the growing of crops in soil has been practiced since the dawn of agriculture. Generations of farmers have used farming practices and available technology to grow crops that feed their families. Since it was announced by scientists that the global population has risen and will continue to do so rapidly, the need to develop a solution has become a matter of urgency and vital importance.

Providing a food source for the escalating world population is not an easy job for farmers. Climate changes have led to unpredictable weather conditions. And to make their jobs more difficult, their hard work is often endangered due to hail, frost, and drought or flood, along with the lack of available farmland. Remarkable achievements in science have managed to address problems such as the lack of the arable land, water deficiency, and rising fossil fuel prices, thus mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.

Just a few decades ago, farming in a controlled environment sounded like science fiction to everyone in the industry. Today, it is a reality, serving as a possible answer to all future challenges that are threatening the food security.

Farming in a Controlled Environment

In one of our previous blog posts, we wrote about farming in a controlled environment. Here is a snapshot of the meaning of this sustainable farm practice. Farming in a controlled environment is a type of urban farming where environmental conditions such as light, temperature, humidity, and nutrient cycles can be controlled. This practice refers to an indoor method of farming, such as vertical farms and greenhouses. Both farm practices manage crop growth by combining the hydroponic, aeroponic and aquaponic systems.

The key difference between the vertical farms and greenhouses is the natural light. A vertical farm is lit by artificial light, while greenhouses rely mostly on natural light. However, farmers can utilize artificial light within the greenhouse farm to manage the crops’ growth.

Farming Without Using Sunlight

Growing crops under artificial light is a revolutionary scientific farm practice. Initially, vertical farms used fluorescent lights to support the crop growth. However, with the development of LED light technology, fluorescent lights are slowly being replaced by the new, energy-efficient bulbs. The best practice is to use the pink lights, i.e. the combination of red and blue LED lights. Scientists claim that the mixing of red and blue wavelengths is all that a crop really requires in order to grow successfully.

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Influence of Pink Light to the Crop Growth

Blue wavelengths influence phototropism, the opening of stomata which regulates a crop’s retention of water and chlorophyll production. Phytochromes absorb mostly red light. Red wavelengths produce a variety of responses in crops as well. They initiate seed germination, root development, and manage shade avoidance.

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By using artificial lights and embracing vertical farming as a viable practice, farmers are able to grow their crops all year-round without the threat of extreme weather events. Furthermore, consumers get locally grown crops in a shorter amount of time, as the need for lengthy transport is eliminated. Crops grown within this practice are free from pests and disease, so the consumer gets a fresh and quality product.

The farm management of this soil-less system is different than that of a traditional open field farm, but the end goal is the same, to produce more goods by using fewer resources. Agrivi farm management software helps farmers who are using this innovational farm practice to track all their farm activities in the form of tasks. With Agrivi, farmers can also manage and stay on top of their finances by being able to analyze entire productivity and profitability.

Be innovative; embrace the technologies of the future and use Agrivi farm management software!

 

Text sources: Happonomy

Image sources: Inhabitat || Fast Company