The Unique Challenge of Horticultural Lighting

Special Report - Special Report: State of the Cannabis Lighting Market

Illuminating an indoor cannabis grow requires the same level of intricate knowledge the world’s foremost cultivators intrinsically apply across all other areas of their operations.

Photo courtesy of Fluence by OSRAM

When I joined Fluence as CEO in 2018, I was entering the horticulture lighting market after more than 20 years in the broader LED industry. At the time, I considered my knowledge of LED technology robust and certainly sufficient to help grow Fluence into the company it is today. But after spending the majority of my first year visiting cultivators around the globe, I learned one very crucial fact: Horticulture lighting is unlike any other lighting category in the world.

Illuminating an indoor cannabis grow or a commercial tomato greenhouse with a highly optimized lighting strategy requires the same level of intricate knowledge the world’s foremost cultivators intrinsically apply across all other areas of their operations. In general, street, stadium and office lighting applications don’t require considering the interconnectedness of lighting with other environmental parameters to affect living organisms.

In short, growers are essential to the world’s livelihood. Their centuries-long legacies growing, producing and delivering food and medicine to the world’s population has informed and paved the way for complex, intricate scientific ventures. And cultivators are hungry for more knowledge. They want to understand how to grow bigger and faster, and how to cultivate better plants with smaller and smaller margins. They want to bring produce and medicine closer to their consumers and do so in an energy efficient way. And as the global population continues to boom—bringing with it a massive increase in food demand—cultivators are evaluating the efficacy of indoor growing environments located in more urban areas. Investors are taking note, too. AgFunder’s 2021 AgriFoodTech Investment Report reported a 34.5% year-over-year increase in foodtech and agtech investments. Fluence’s market models show investment in LED technology for vertical farming alone will increase by more than 477% by 2025.

In recent years, not only have we observed the meteoric rise in LED adoption, but cannabis cultivators in particular are realizing the benefits of LED lighting strategies at each stage of plant production. As reflected in this year’s “State of the Cannabis Lighting Market” report, produced by Cannabis Business Times with support from Fluence, LED usage for cannabis cultivation grew by at least 45 percentage points in all stages of growth compared to results from the 2016 report.

2020 was also a landmark year for cannabis legalization, driving an increase in demand for high-quality cannabis products—with recreational and medical cannabis sales expected to grow by 21% through 2025—as well as industry-wide cultivation standards. As this year’s “State of the Cannabis Lighting Market” report indicates, cultivators have spoken. LEDs are unequivocally the gold standard for cannabis cultivation.

At Fluence, we are led by science in our exploration of the interaction between light and life to yield a healthier, more sustainable world. In addition to this report, we recently announced results from our multiyear, global research initiative studying the effects of broad-spectrum lighting strategies on cannabis and food crops. In partnership with our network of global cultivators, we will continue to research and discover just how far LED lighting can go in shaping and impacting the world’s crops.

To helping the world grow smarter, together,