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Giving crops “micro-naps” saves one-third of indoor farm energy

Growing plants under a slow disco of pulsing lights could reduce the energy-use of LED-fueled indoor farming by more than a third, finds a new study. Even better, the research suggests that this method won’t reduce harvests.

Researchers on the new paper made their discovery by tweaking the regular 12-hours-of-light, 12-hours-of-dark cycle under which indoor crops grow. This pattern mimics natural light cycles in the outside world – but the LED lights that create this effect also guzzle large amounts of electricity. For farmers, that creates “a huge cost, about 25% of the operation budget,” says Kevin Folta, professor in the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida, and author on the new paper.