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This stunning light display could make crops more sustainable

When you think of twinkling lights at night, you probably imagine sparkling cityscapes rather than fields of rural farms.

Not so with Studio Roosegaarde’s latest project, Grow. Founder Daan Roosegaarde and his team swathed over 215,000 square feet of leek crops in undulating red, blue, and UV LED light. They activate the lights at night, giving the field the appearance of glowing creatures at the bottom of the ocean instead of a farm. The agency calls it an “homage to the beauty of agriculture,” but it also highlights the surprising science behind how light design can help plants grow.

Scientists have actually used LED lights for indoor farming, like greenhouses and vertical farms, for years now. (Phillips launched a Netherlands indoor farming lab back in 2015.) What they’ve found is that red and blue LED lights can give indoor plants some of the same benefits they’d typically get from the sun: Red lightwaves help plants grow and blue help them flower. If you think of red and blue lights as raw ingredients, you can customize the perfect lightwave “recipe” for your plant.

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