The short daylight periods of winter in Alfred, New York necessitate supplemental plant lighting for year round production in the greenhouse. Working
closely with the program director, Dr. Matthew Harbur, LGM created a model pairing two high efficiency plant growth technologies: Nutrient Film
Technique (NFT), with LED Grow Master lighting. Using one third of the space, a fraction of the minerals, and little waste to contaminate the
environment. Herbs and lettuce were grown for use in the Alfred State cafeteria as well as their culinary program. The greenhouse provided a learning
center for students to incorporate LED grow lights to efficiently produce year round in their hydroponics lab and organic greenhouse.
Hydroponics is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions instead of soil. Benefits, when compared to traditional farming, include:
increased growth rates, less water use, less space, and increased nutrient content of produce making hydroponics a promising method for
Sustainable Agriculture. LEDs provide the solution to the problems associated with traditional greenhouse lighting. Conventional grow lights use up to
1,000 watts of power to operate and must be replaced every year. LED Grow Master grow lights use less energy and last longer. Fluorescent tubes and
metallic vapor lamps all need a ballast to operate. These ballasts eventually burn out and must be replaced. The LGM lights don't need a ballast,
eliminating this recurring cost from the growing system. Over the lifetime of LED Grow Master lighting, significant savings occur in electricity and
replacement costs. The energy savings becomes more and more important as costs continue to rise.
In an effort to reach peak efficiency, Dr Harbur began the LED section of the greenhouse with only 4 LGM5 grow bars for each 5' x 10' NFT bench
(this is half the LEDs that are generally recommended for 50 sq ft. in greenhouses.) According to the results- Dr. Harbur may well prove this is sufficient
for year round lettuce/herb production. His electrical draw for the LEDs was a total of 180 watts.
|National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
|The yellow section shows when the sun is up, and how this changes over the year.
|The Center for Organic and Sustainable Agriculture at Alfred State SUNY College of Technology is devoted to training
and educating students for independently operated, sustainable farms to provide New Yorkers with affordable, healthy
foods that in turn put money back into local communities. New techniques, products, and experience have created a
period of rapid advancement in knowledge of the optimal environment for sustainable food production.
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