Benefits of LED Lighting for Cows and Bees

CowsMany industries are looking at using LEDs, but researchers may have found some unexpected benefits of LED lighting for cows and bees.

Iowa Farmer Today reported that dairy cows produce more milk with LED lighting.  While it is still early, a 2010 Oklahoma State study comparing LED lighting to traditional light in dairies resulted in a 6% bump in milk production for the cows exposed to LED lighting.

The experiment compared a 500-cow free-stall barn outfitted with LEDs on one side and traditional metal halide lighting on the other.  Researchers found that cows responded positively to LED light with increased milk production.  Researchers observed that the directional light from LEDs provided the cows with a boost in feed intake.  The researchers don’t know if the increase in milk production is from the feed intake itself, or a possible increase in hormones that promote milk production. In order to prove that LED light increases milk production researchers will need to study further.  They’ll need to determine the effects of increased light, intensity and other variables as well as replicate the study at different facilities.

Pollination by bees is a necessary part of growing flowers and crops.  But bumble bees suffer from poor vision and sensitivity to certain wavelengths of light. In fact, northern climates have shorter growing seasons in part due to the lack of available natural light for pollinator bumble bees.  Use of artificial light sources in horticulture has been an issue due to the bumble bee’s limited vision under UVB, blue and green light.  Finding an artificial light source that works with pollinator bees will help horticulture in areas with limited natural light.

LED grow-light manufacturer Valoya demonstrated the functionality of their lights in a tomato trial at PlantResearch in Made, Netherlands.  The company compared pollinator bee activity in two compartments: one with LED lighting and another with only natural light. The bees in the LED compartment started flying out to flowers immediately when the AP67-LED lights were turned on.  The bees in compartments with high pressure sodium lights on (and an open hatch) only started to move 4 hours later when some natural light became available through the open hatch.  More study is needed, but LED-grow lights may prove effective to increase pollination time in areas with limited amounts of natural light.

For Further Reading

Iowa Farmer Today, Milking lighting to boost production,

Valoya Press Release, Valoya’s Horticultural LED Lights Enable Pollinator Bees to Operate without Natural Light,

LEDs Magazine, Valoya claims additional benefits for LEDs in horticulture, bees like SSL,

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