Farmers and other agricultural businesses are under increasing pressure. The demand for cheap produce in increasing numbers has resulted in farmers doing everything they can to reduce costs while increasing yields, and one of these cost-reduction methods is raising animals indoors. Keeping animals indoors gives farmers more control over how their animals are raised, and therefore more accurate predictions about future yields can be made, making it easier to operate their businesses. They also have complete control over the animals’ food intake, which can increase the total yields generated.
Benefits of LED lighting in agriculture
While the generic cost-saving and environmental benefits of LED lighting are very well established, there is a body of research developing that suggests there may be specific agricultural applications, which could result in increased yields where animals are raised indoors. We will now look at how LED lighting can not only save farmers money, but potentially increase their yields in the process.
Cooler operating temperature
LED lights give off much less heat than traditional light sources. This is because most of the energy they use is converted into light and not wasted as heat energy. This means that the need for mechanical cooling is massively reduced, resulting in what can be quite significant cost savings.
Control of colour temperature
LED lights can be purchased in a range of different colour temperatures, which are measured in Kelvins (K). A recent study into the effects of lighting on the milk yields of dairy cows, conducted by the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Maryland, found that a colour temperature of around 6050K is ideal for optimising milk production and animal welfare. Perhaps not surprisingly, this colour temperature is very close to natural daylight.
Control of light levels
This brings us to the very important point of being able to control how long animals are subjected to light and dark. The same study mentioned above found that keeping the cows in an illuminated environment for 16 hours per day, as opposed to eight hours per day, also correlated with an increase in milk production. This means that farmers can maintain the same level of milk production throughout the winter months when the days are shorter.
Saving money and the environment
The long lifespan of LEDs (20,000+ hours), low power usage and low operating temperature, means that they are very environmentally friendly. And of course these factors make them up to 80% cheaper to run that traditional light sources. In fact, the payback period for LED lighting is typically around six months; after that, you’re in profit! Making the switch to LED lighting will undoubtedly save farmers and other agricultural businesses money on their lighting costs, and with the prospect of actually increasing yields in the process a very real possibility, an investment in LED lighting will certainly pay for itself!