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LED use in greenhouses could cut costs, improve quality

Research at Purdue could help greenhouse growers in cold weather climates. Horticulture Professor Cary Mitchell and graduate students are looking into the use of LEDs with traditional lighting.

The results show a reduction in energy costs, which Mitchell says is promising for the future of LEDs.

“The quality is good, energy is much less, and yield is about the same, so those are both economic and quality consumer advantages.”

He says LED use may allow for two indoor growing seasons, instead of the usual year-long method currently practiced.

“If a local grower can do this affordably in northern climate, then they can take the crop to vine-ripeness, pick it and with shorter transportation distances have the produce on the grocery store shelves the next day.”

The research is funded through the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. While it’s still on-going, Mitchell says he’s getting a lot of calls about using LEDs.

“For hobbyist market, I say, ‘fine.’ They’re going to be doing this in the house, sole source lighting – do whatever you want. For growers who would invest thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment, we’re urging them to wait just a little while longer.”

The study involved growing tomatoes, but scientists say the method should work for such things as cucumbers and sweet peppers too.