Can Augmenting Top Lights With Supplemental Alternatives Help Optimize Cannabis Grows?
<![CDATA[Cannabis cultivators growing under lights in controlled indoor or greenhouse environments traditionally have relied on top lighting to achieve their goals. But as cannabis lighting research has pushed those goals to new heights, interest in alternative lighting options has grown.More than half of the participants in Cannabis Business Times’ 2022 “State of the Cannabis Lighting Market Report” research, made possible with support from Fluence, plan to investigate lighting options such as side, intercanopy and subcanopy lighting this coming year. So where’s a grower to start?For insights and answers, we turned to Fluence principal scientist David Hawley, Ph.D., for more on these still-uncommon lighting types. “Very, very few growers are actually doing this at a commercial scale, although quite a few commercial growers are experimenting with these alternatives,” Hawley says. “So far, anecdotally, I’ve heard very promising things.” Understanding Lighting DifferencesWhen exploring supplemental lighting options, it’s important to understand their differences and intended roles. For starters, Hawley emphasizes that supplemental lighting alternatives are meant to augment top lighting—not replace it.“Plants have evolved in a world where light is coming from the top, and the most active photosynthetic area of the canopy is the top,” he explains. That makes top lighting your priority across the board. But intercanopy, subcanopy or side lighting can be valuable additions when you understand their purpose.Top lighting is fairly self-explanatory: Lights are above the canopy, lighting the canopy top. Placement varies depending on your growing environment and goals. Vertical farms, for example, have top lights placed very close to the plant in sharp contrast to high bay greenhouses. With supplemental lighting alternatives, the goal shifts to moving light into the canopy. How that’s achieved varies with lighting type.Side lighting typically involves mounting lighting fixtures around the perimeter of the grow to shine light into the canopy from the…
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