By Jim Harger | email@example.com
HOLLAND, MI – Kevin Bird says his company put the plant first when it developed new TotalGrow LED-based plant lights. “We spent two years working on the science with Michigan State, Cornell and Purdue (universities),” said Bird, one of the partners in Venntis Technologies, based at 1215 Waverly Road
From that approach, they developed TotalGrow, an LED-based plant light that casts a pinkish glow that gives the plant the light waves from the spectrum it needs without wasting energy on light waves it cannot use.
“We came at it as scientists. We are a bunch of geeks,” Bird said. “Every photon out of our optics is in that spectrum.”
For growers such as husband and wife Steve and Kris Van Haitsma, of Mud Lake Farms, the new system allows them to produce more salad greens at a lower cost in their Hudsonville greenhouses.
“They out-produced our old lights by 10 percent with one-third of the electricity,” said Van Haitsma of the first-generation lights they tested for Venntis last year.
The latest TotalGrow lights, which consume just 150 watts per fixture, are even more efficient, Van Haitsma said.
“This greenhouse is out-performing my other greenhouses by double,” he said, standing in his newest hydroponic greenhouse. Unlike his fluorescent lamps, the LED lights come on quickly when needed on a cloudy day.
Although the initial investment is expensive at about $1,000 per fixture, Van Haitsma said the fixtures qualify for a rebate from Consumers Energy and should last for up to 20 years.
Part of the energy savings from the fixtures lies in the fact that, unlike other high-powered plant lights, the LED lights do not need cooling fans, Bird said.
Bird said he expects the new LED fixtures, which are manufactured for Venntis in Zeeland by Ventura Manufacturing, to become the standard for greenhouses in coming years.
The fixtures, which also are being developed in smaller 10-watt versions, could become popular with smaller scale hydroponic growers, including those who raise medical marijuana, Bird said.
“It is low power and it supports strong root development,” said Bird, who said they plan to begin distributing the fixtures through hydroponic stores that cater to marijuana growers.
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