Growing Plants in the Dark

Allison Guy
February 23rd 2012

While sunlight contains all colors, the dominant type of chlorophyll in plants only needs purple light to function. This simple fact has big implications for the future of farming. Crops planted in soil, of course, depend on the sun, while commercial greenhouses use white light to grow their crops. All that extra red, green and yellow energy is wasted on the plants.

PlantLab has taken advantage of chlorophyll's little quirk. By using red and blue LEDs to create purple light, they have dramatically cut the energy needed to grow plants indoors. The special lights boost the efficiency of photosynthesis from 9% to between 12 and 15%. Growing plants in a closed system conserves heat, water, and nutrients, and cuts the need for pesticides. Since the crops no longer need access to sunlight, they can be grown in dense stacks. The future of vertical farming looks a lot like a nightclub for plants.

Watch the introductory video here.

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