UK researchers are exploring how LEDs affect plant growth and how they may allow for more efficient stimulation of photosynthesis. You may think this a result of the improved energy efficiency and reliable illumination provided by LEDs, but there’s more to this research than meets the human eye. Instead, the type light that can be produced by LEDs is especially useful to plants, which drive photosynthesis in response to red light.
“It is not necessarily the efficacy of LEDs that is the advantage, as the high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps currently used can deliver up to 150 lm/W, but the ability save power by only delivering wavelengths useful to plants – green, for example, reflects off plants. Strockbridge Technology Centre (STC) is a plant growing research lab in Yorkshire. ‘The most efficient way to drive photosynthesis is red light. You need a small amount of blue and in some situations you need far-red light,’ STC science director Dr Martin McPherson told Electronics Weekly.”
When compared to greenhouse lighting such as HPS, LEDs may prove to be a better alternative for their efficiency as well as their cooler burning temperature, however, it’s still unclear how LEDs will perform on commercial growing levels—at least until technology improves.