HomeNewsLED Lighting in Focus: Pioneering Research Transforms Horticultural Practices

LED Lighting in Focus: Pioneering Research Transforms Horticultural Practices


Several lighting companies promote their LED (light-emitting diode) products by advertising a perfect "light recipe." This usually includes a mix of different wavelengths and color proportions, like a 4-to-1 ratio of red to blue colors seen in a rainbow. Plant researchers frequently rely on this data to assess how these lights might impact plant growth and development. However, a forthcoming study in Acta Horticulturae suggests there's a lack of standard methods for calculating these color ratios, highlighting a gap in the industry.


Senior author A.J. Both, a professor and extension specialist in controlled environment engineering at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, emphasizes the significance of efficient supplemental lighting sources in agriculture. He states, "The more efficient these lighting sources are, the less electricity farmers require to grow their crops." Both, who is part of the Department of Environmental Sciences in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, aims to contribute to making indoor crop production more sustainable and cost-effective.


A.J. Both highlights the crucial role of enhanced energy efficiency in improving profitability. He notes that insights into innovative crop lighting techniques will significantly benefit the growing indoor farming sector.


A.J. Both's earlier research indicates that electric lamps are crucial in greenhouses and controlled environments to enhance and prolong sunlight exposure for growing horticultural crops like vegetables, flowers, and herbs. Recent developments in energy-efficient LED technology have given rise to various lighting options in horticulture. However, growers face challenges in comparing these technologies and LED choices due to the absence of independent performance data. This research has prompted the suggestion of a standardized product label, which would enable growers to compare lamp options across different manufacturers effectively.


Both and his team are dedicated to independently evaluating key performance metrics like power usage, efficiency, light intensity, and distribution patterns, and sharing these insights with commercial growers. His research underscores recent advancements that enable precise control of LED lamp lighting and its effects on plant growth and development. Collaborating closely with plant scientists, Both's group is deeply involved in understanding how light influences plants cultivated for both food and ornamental purposes.


The latest study suggests the use of a spectroradiometer, a device designed to measure light across different wavelengths. This tool can be instrumental in calculating various light ratios. The team observed significant variations in these ratios when comparing natural sunlight to commonly used plant lighting, such as LED, high-pressure sodium, incandescent, and fluorescent lamps. The researchers aim for their findings to aid in establishing standard definitions for certain wavebands, which are crucial for plant growth and development.




In conclusion, the research spearheaded by A.J. Both and his colleagues marks a significant step forward in understanding and improving plant lighting in controlled environments. Their focus on utilizing a spectroradiometer to accurately measure light output and ratios is a critical development in comparing different lighting technologies. The discrepancies they've found between sunlight and artificial light sources like LED and high-pressure sodium lamps highlight the need for standardized definitions in the industry. This work not only provides invaluable data to commercial growers but also paves the way for more efficient and effective lighting strategies in horticulture. By advancing these standards, Both and his team are contributing to a future where indoor farming can be both more sustainable and productive.

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