Chuck Denney-Narrator (UT Institute of Agriculture)
There’s nothing wrong with your high def TV. These kale plants are growing under a purple-red light. This looks like a horticultural disco, but actually these are LEDs or light emitting diodes. UT Ag Researcher Dr. Dean Kopsell studies how to control the wavelengths of different colors and light intensity of LEDs. These plants have been growing the same amount of time – the one in his right hand under LEDs, and the one in his left with regular lighting.
Note the difference in height.

Dr. Dean Kopsell (UT AgResearch)
“What the LEDs do is that you’re only giving it the wavelength that it needs and you’re not getting any heat along with that like you would with an incandescent bulb, so it makes it very efficient.”

Chuck Denney
Kopsell believes LED lighting can help producers grow plants cheaper, faster and with less energy.
He also studies how plants grown with LED lighting might be more nutritious.

Dr. Dean Kopsell
“Bright sunshine makes things grow, right? Actually plants only use a small percentage of the sun’s rays. LED lighting has all the benefits of the sun, but nothing’s wasted and it’s not nearly as hot or intense.”

Chuck Denney
AgResearchers are also using this high tech equipment to study how LED light can detect damage to plants, and if that plant can recover. These images show that a wounded plant doesn’t absorb light very well. UT experts say LED lighting can be a supplement to greenhouse operations.

Dr. Carl Sams (UT AgResearch)
“LEDs run about 50% more efficient on the electric bills for the same amount of light output.”

Chuck Denney
Plant scientist Dr. Carl Sams says the LED technology is a little expensive now, but becoming cheaper all the time. And greenhouse operators will eventually save money by using less energy.

Dr. Carl Sams
“If you can reduce that electrical cost by half or more, then that’s going to be a major impact and it may mean the difference between whether you can afford the lights or not afford the lights.”

Chuck Denney
We all will be using more LED light bulbs in the future. In terms of energy saved, there’s no comparison to traditional lighting. And when it comes to growing plants indoors, we can mimic the sun and it won’t cost us much.


NOTE: NASA first developed LEDs for the purpose of growing plants in space and potentially on other planets.