I, Dr. Bulb have found a new fellow LED enthusiast! Mike Langmo, a Minnesota turkey farmer, installed dimmable, programmable LED lamps in one of his barns in order to simulate natural light patterns indoors. The turkeys don’t even have to venture outside to experience a beautiful sunrise or sunset—a personal dream of Dr. Bulb!
Simulating natural lighting patterns isn’t just for fun—it can help regulate the birds’ circadian rhythms, possibly resulting in healthier, more productive flocks. It hasn’t been 100% proven, but Langmo noticed that the turkeys seem to be converting weight to food more efficiently in the LED barn than the barn still lined with high-pressure sodium lights. Also, the lighting seems to have reduced fighting among the turkeys. I love the idea of fat, peaceful birds!
While the LED lamps provide possible happiness and optimum sunlight for the turkeys, they also cut down energy costs for Langmo. The lamps are 87% more efficient than the 100-watt incandescent lamps that once lined the barn’s ceilings. Although he had to use more LED lamps than incandescent lamps, the barn is still using less electricity than it had previously.
I was thrilled to find that Langmo isn’t the only farmer in Minnesota trying LED lamps. He is part of a state-funded study, The Minnesota Project, that’s trying to document the performance of LED lighting in poultry barns. They even received a grant from the Minnesota Department of Commerce in 2011 to evaluate the LED products.
And the support didn’t end there. The Minnesota Project partnered with Once Innovations, a company that manufactures LED lights for barns, and found dozens of farmers to test out the lights in their barns. They concluded that, so far, the durable LED lamps are holding up under the hot, dusty conditions of turkey barns. Another important benefit!
Another alternative many farmers are turning to is CFLs, which have the possibility of mercury contamination if they happen to break inside the barn. I, Dr. Bulb do not like the sound of unhealthy turkeys!
The Minnesota Project hopes to give rural utilities the necessary information so that they can design more effective rebate programs around LED lighting on farms. Fritz Ebinger, the study’s clean energy manager, says the adoption of LED lighting on farms not only affects individual farmers, but entire rural economies. I get so excited when people start using LED lights for innovative uses, whether it be LED wallpacks, LED bollard lights or LED barn lights.
While not all farmers have switched over to LED lamps, The Minnesota Project and I, Dr. Bulb, hope that agricultural barns will soon move past the early-adopter phase. While at first LED lamps were too expensive for farmers to invest in lighting upgrades, prices have dropped significantly.
Productive turkeys, less energy consumption, and increased cost efficiency sound great to me!