The 2010s were a landmark decade for marijuana activism. Governments across the world have started having a liberal stance towards weed and several states in the US, too, have legalized marijuana, some for medicinal purposes, while some for recreational purposes as well. However, the society at large continues to view marijuana as something that is still a social taboo. Hence, a large number of people who want to grow marijuana tend to do it indoors. In this article, we shall take a closer look at ‘vertical farming’, which is one of the most popular ways of growing weed indoors.
Here, we understand what vertical farming is, as well as which are the best grow lights for vertical farming. We also take a closer look at what a grow light is and which are the different types of grow lights available to growers. We hope that by the end of this article, you will be able to make a more informed decision as to what kind of grow lights you should be buying for your vertical farming setup.
Let us begin by first addressing the most basic question:
What is Vertical Farming?
Vertical farming is basically a method of indoor farming. This involves plants being grown on vertically stacked layers. This is a technique which is both, space-saving, as well as allows the plants to grow on a large number of non-traditional surfaces. While this started as a means of indoor farming, it has also expanded into outdoor growing, as growers are now preferring even outdoor locations for such farming methods. However, weed continues to be something that is largely grown indoors.
What vertical farming involves is, that you can stack surfaces on top of each other and have weed growing on each ‘floor’. This has multiple advantages, but the most important of it is perhaps the fact that it allows for more plants to be grown in the same amount of space. Also, by growing it indoors, there are a number of natural factors that you can replicate and control.
When you grow a plant outdoors in a traditional way, you are leaving it entirely at the mercy of mother nature. If there’s enough sunlight, the plant will grow well. However, if the weather is too cloudy, or it rains or snows too much, the growth of the plant might be affected. Similarly, very hot weathers or very dry weather with no rain spell can also lead to plants being damaged. Insects, pests and animals are another major deterrent to a healthy outdoors growth. However, in case of indoor vertical farming, none of these problems can actually affect your plants. Let us now take a closer look at grow lights, which are one of the most important aspects of growing your weed indoors on a vertical farming setup.
What is a Grow Light?
As we mentioned above, when you grow your weed indoors, you have much better control over the growth of the plant than compared to doing the same outside. This is because there are factors such as sunlight and heat that you cannot control in the open nature. However, when you do it indoors, grow lights come into the picture. These grow lights essentially replicate the effect that the sun would have on the plants and are hence very important.
Grow lights provide heat and light to the plant. They are important because without proper heat and light, the growth of the plant would be severely hampered. It is in the direction of the light that plants tend to grow and it is with the help of light that photosynthesis can take place, which is a process where the plants convert light into energy. Light and heat also open up the stomata of the plants – which allows them to ‘respire’. Heat and light are also responsible for the production of various enzymes in the plant which help them grow better.
Different Types of Grow Lights for Vertical Farming
Here are the different grow lights for vertical farming. All of them have their own special utility and are unique in their own way:
- Fluorescent Grow Lights: These are among one of the most common types of grow lights that people tend to use and they come in two variants – fluorescent tubes, as well as Compact Fluorescent Lights, popularly known as CFLs. These grow lights have a significant advantage over the old-school method, that was the incandescent grow lights as they are significantly more energy-efficient These lights require a ballast to regulate the current and the tubes require a stand which might make them occupy a little more space and make them a little hard to maintain, but nevertheless, Fluorescent grow lights are one of the best grow lights for vertical farming in 2020.
- High-Pressure Sodium Grow Lights: High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) grow lights are a type of High-Intensity light which have been in use for a really long time. At least for the past 75 years, we know that HPS grow lights have been in use when it comes to vertical farming. These grow lights emit a little more heat than compared to fluorescent grow lights, and emit amber/red shade of lights, which is good for the plants during the flowering stage. Hence, these ‘warm lights’ are preferred during the second half of the growth process.
- Metal Halides: These are another kind of High Intensity lights which are a counterpart to the High Pressure Sodium grow lights. These Metal Halides are basically the cooler spectrum of lights (blue/white) which are great for the plants during their first half of the growth process when they are in the vegetative stage. However, the problem with both HPS and Metal Halides grow lights is that they are a little too hard to maintain and even hard to dispose, given that they contain mercury, which is a toxic metal. Nonetheless, High Pressure Sodium grow lights and Metal Halides continue to be a popular choice for growers who want to grow a large number of plants in vertical farming setups.
- LED Grow Lights: LED grow lights are the latest types of lights in the grow lights industry. These have been around for over a decade now but their popularity levels continue to rise. They are the best grow lights for vertical farming and let us explain to you in detail as to why this is the case.
Best Grow Lights for Vertical Farming
When you look for the best grow lights for vertical farming, chances are that you will come to a conclusion that you are looking for LED grow lights. This is because there are a number of advantages associated with using LED grow lights for vertical farming. Let us take a detailed look as to what these advantages are which truly make it the best choice for those want to grow their marijuana indoors in a vertical farming setup.
- First and foremost, the biggest advantage of using an LED grow light is the fact that it is very energy efficient. Compared to other types of grow lights, LED grow lights tend to consume the least amount of energy for producing the same output of light. Hence, in the long run, growers are actually saving a lot of cost of electricity and thereby the lights, in a way, pay for themself.
- Another major advantage of LED grow lights is that if you purchase a full-spectrum LED grow light, then you don’t need to worry about changing your grow light setup every time your plants enter the flowering stage from the vegetative stage. This is because LED lights tend to have a switch which allows you to change from vegetative mode to bloom mode, which basically means the colour of the lights will change and wavelengths of the required spectrum will be provided to the plants.
- Third, LED lights do not produce as much heat as some of the older types of lights do. You still need to maintain an appropriate distance away from the plants, but the temperatures won’t get so hot that the plants would start getting damaged.
- Fourth, when you compare the lifespan of these grow lights compared to other types of grow lights, there is a clear benefit. Fluorescent grow lights and High Intensity Lights (HPS/Metal Halides) stand no chance against the lifespan of LED grow lights, which is 40,000 hours on an average.
- Last but not the least, LED lights are relatively safe to dispose off as well. While they do contribute to some amount of e-waste, they are easy to recycle, repair and reuse as compared to other types of lights such as the high intensity lights that contain harmful chemicals like mercury, making them hard to dispose.
Hence, coming to the conclusion, we believe that LED grow lights are the best grow light options for vertical farming. There are a number of reasons which we have enlisted above. We hope that this article helped you understand what vertical farming is and what its benefits are, as well as get a detailed understanding of what the different kind of grow lights are and which is the best one that you can use in case you are opting for the vertical farming methods.
Happy Growing! 🙂