Philips has joined forces with Green Sense Farms (GSF) to develop one of the largest indoor commercial farms using LED grow lights tailored to specific crops.

The advent of LED technology has enabled the fine tuning of tailor-made light recipes optimized to the needs of specific crops.
The advent of LED technology has enabled the fine tuning of tailor-made light recipes optimized to the needs of specific crops.

The Chicago-area grower has made a multi-million dollar investment to renovate and equip a one million cubic foot indoor growing area consisting of 14, 25 foot tall growing towers in two climate-controlled grow rooms, which use Philips energy-efficient LED solutions tailored to the crops.

The innovative farming model allows them to harvest 20-25 times a year by using ‘light recipes’ optimized for the produce, using 85% less energy. It’s claimed this will result in an increase in crop yields and reduced operating costs, while providing consumers with locally grown, fresh vegetables throughout the year. The method also eliminates the need for harmful pesticides, fertilizers or preservatives, resulting in produce that is organically grown and virtually chemical free.

Plants use certain wavelengths of light more efficiently and respond in a different way to different sets of wavelengths. The advent of LED technology has enabled the fine tuning of tailor-made light recipes optimized to the needs of specific crops. Philips has worked with research institutes, universities, growers and partners like Hort Americas, to meet GSF’s unique needs. Also, because LEDs run at cooler temperatures they can be placed closer to the plants and optimally positioned, ensuring complete uniform illumination of the plant.

Udo van Slooten, director of horticultural lighting at Philips said: “Different plant types have different light needs and working with forward thinking growers like GSF, Philips is building up a database of ‘light recipes’ for different plant varieties. GSF is using vertical hydroponic technology with Philips LED growing lights, enabling them to do what no other grower can do: provide a consistent amount of high quality produce, year round. As the leader in lighting, it is important for us to use lighting in new and innovative ways that better serve the communities in which we live, work, and play.”

Robert Colangelo, founding farmer and president of GSF said: “Through our joint R&D efforts with Philips, we continue to innovate and perfect LED lighting for indoor growing systems that can maximize plant photosynthesis, while minimizing energy use for the most delicious and nutritious vegetables grown in a sustainable manner. By growing our crops vertically, we are able to pack more plants per acre than we would have in a field farm, which results in more harvests per year. We produce little waste, no agricultural runoff and minimal greenhouse gasses because the food is grown where it is consumed.”

It’s hoped the urban farming model will help address the needs of a growing world population, a shortage of land for agriculture and extreme weather events. GSF’s vision is to build farms at institutions, such as college campuses, hospital complexes and military bases that can serve large worker populations, reducing the miles their food travels and improving freshness.

Philips city farming infographic.
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