If you’ve ever taken the Thalys high speed train from Amsterdam to Paris, then you’ve probably seen the massive greenhouses stretching out to the horizon as far as the eye can see. These are not just simple greenhouses or indoor farms: Think of these as massive food factories.
A page straight out of the future, Philips Horticulture Lighting is a combination of new business venture and research project that has been progressing for several years. LED lighting is an ideal light source for growing plants, because plants only require certain wavelengths of light. Since LEDs can be tailored to generate just those spectra, without producing all the other needless wavelengths of light, the efficiency is very high. This is important in places like the sun-starved Netherlands (at least, in the winter) that still want to grow healthy food locally.
When you combine sustainable energy sources with these efficient light systems, all-year farming in tough climates becomes a legitimate strategy for the future. Architect Bill McDonough especially noted in his book “The Upcycle” that electric lighting in greenhouses is a great way to “dump” excess power generated by windfarms at night — think of the food being grown as essentially a big type of energy storage device. And Philips is extending its focus now to urban farming — an area that may have dramatic implications for human populations.
The new farming: LEDs and robots! Check out the case-study video below.