Customer Stories Jun 10, 2011

Aquaponics and LumiGrow Spectral Technology Get Along Swimmingly at Clean Fresh Food

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About Clean Fresh Food

Clean Fresh Food is a company that operates an aquaponics growing facility in Belleville, Wisconsin. The company believes in providing its customers with fresh, local produce grown without pesticides or antibiotics. It honors those principals by delivering produce the same day it is harvested, keeping the customer base to within a 50-mile radius of the facility. As part of this philosophy, the company uses the most advanced, environmentally friendly techniques and tools from both the past and present. To that end, Clean Fresh Food recently installed 60 LumiGrow LED lights.

40% Crop Productivity Increase

Improved Lettuce Quality

70% Reduction in Lighting Costs

What are Aquaponics?

Clean Fresh Food’s growing operation is located in a 10,000-square-foot greenhouse that sits on a 100-acre, certified organic farm. The greenhouse is home to schools of fish as well as the more expected crops of growing greens. The fish are the aqua part of aquaponics, a food production system that combines aquaculture (raising aquatic animals in tanks) and hydroponics (cultivating plants in water).

There are two primary benefits to using this mini-ecosystem in a commercial grow operation. First, it significantly reduces the use of chemicals in the grow process. Plants feed off the nutrients in the organic fertilizer that is the fishes’ waste, eliminating the need for outside fertilizer. The company also doesn’t use pesticides or other chemicals that could be harmful to the fish. Second, the plants clean the water before it cycles back to the fish tanks.

“Our lettuce is noticeably much fuller since we installed LumiGrow LED lights in the middle of our Wisconsin winter. We only wished we’d installed them sooner.”

-Matt Roth, Grower at Clean Fresh Foods

Why LEDs?

The Clean Fresh Food team learned of LumiGrow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on a campus tour featuring energy-efficient agricultural lighting. Operationally and philosophically, LEDs have proven to be a match for operations such as this one than other sources such as high-energy discharge (HID) lights.

“LumiGrow LED lights cost less to operate and deliver better performance than HID lights,” said Mike Knight, Owner of Clean Fresh Food. “Just as important to us is that these energy-saving lights are consistent with the sustainable practices that form the foundation of our farm.”

Legacy light sources such as HID lights are inefficient, turning only 30 percent of the energy they use into light. The other 70 percent is radiated off as heat that can make the operation too warm for the fish to thrive or even survive. LEDs are three times more efficient, reducing the farm’s carbon footprint, and keeping the fish — along with the microgreens, lettuce, and swiss chard — at ideal temperatures.

“LumiGrow LED lights cost less to operate and deliver better performance than HID lights. Just as important to us is that these energy-saving lights are consistent with the sustainable practices that form the foundation of our farm.”

40% Productivity Gain

Clean Fresh Food is achieving an estimated 40% crop productivity gain with the LumiGrow LED lights. At this rate, the company is on target to realize a payback time — in which the system pays for itself — of a few days shy of eleven months.

Summary
  • Problem. HID lights were prohibitively expensive to operate.
  • Solution. Installed energy-efficient LumiGrow fixtures
  • Results. 40% increase in crop productivity; 70% reduction in monthly lighting energy costs
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