Grow Light Monitoring Helps You Maximize Crop Quality, Yield, and ROI

You learned it when you were little—light is essential to plant life.

During elementary school, you understood that plants get energy from light. Photosynthesis then began to have meaning for your budding interests in horticulture.

Now, doing what you love as a commercial grower, you apply more than basic botanical methods to your growing operations. You’re more of a professional horticulturist than a technologist, but you want to use the latest agriculture technologies to stay competitive and ensure you reap an abundant harvest.

As a professional grower, you need to know deep down to the root and up to the stem, leaf, and bud—so to speak—how moisture, soil, light, and more combine synergistically to help your crops grow. To keep your crops thriving, you want all of the information you can get about how well they’re growing.

A plethora of actionable data from prized plants

You frequently observe your plants—looking closely at their foliage—to assess their well-being. You even talk to your crops and encourage them to keep the conversation going. They quickly respond with valuable data on your mobile device—thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT) technologies you have working with you.

For crops, they sure can talk a lot when IoT sensors connect with them. With every IoT sensor added to your monitoring, you control more and more how much and how often your plants speak with you.

An ALTA® by Monnit Soil Moisture Sensor is indispensable for most agritech, precision farming, and smart agriculture operations. ALTA Temperature, Humidity, and Water Detection Sensors, and others are also helpful in any greenhouse, grow chamber, aquaculture, and grow house setting.

What about light?

PAR light values for cropsDo you know how much light your specific crops need? And for how long?

Light is the power for each photosynthetic plant on our planet. So it’s critical to know the daily light specific crops need for healthy growth and abundant yields. You’ve made significant investments in grow lighting systems across your operations, but to get the return you want, you’ll need to measure what the lights shine.

Light sensors can help your crops tell you about the light they’re getting and if it’s the right amount. Each plant and individual leaf can have its say about the light you give them.

This is where the new ALTA Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR) Light Meter can help measure light saturation levels that affect plant health and growth.

Let’s take a few minutes and dive deeper into the light measurements that are important for plant growth.

How can crops tell you about grow lighting?measuring PAR in a greenhouse

Horticulture lighting terms can sound challenging at first when you’re figuring out your commercial grow light setup. But stay with us here for a light refresh on PAR, and soon you’ll be optimizing your grow lighting systems.

It’s important to know that we’re not talking about lux or lumens when it comes to plant lighting. We like to say, “A lumen is for a human, and PAR is for a plant.”

The light waveband that plants use for photosynthesis is PAR. Again, that’s photosynthetically active radiation. To measure PAR, the ALTA PAR Light Meter monitors:

  • The PAR light spectrum that’s within 389 to 692 nanometers
  • Including the PAR red, blue, and green wavebands

The PAR Light Meter can tell you how many photons in the PAR spectral range fall onto a plant each second and in a day. In this way, our PAR Light Meter acts like a leaf soaking up grow light or sunlight. It can assess PAR light intensity down to a quantum of light, which is the smallest measurable amount of solar radiation—a photon.

We’ll pause here to tell you that our PAR Light Meter provides two of the most critical light measurements or readings for plants. Coming up, we’ll briefly outline what those two measurements are so you can deliver the right amount of light within the right timeframe for your crops.

So, we recommend that if you need to better understand plant lighting and its terms—like quantum, photon, or micromoles—down to a science more than what we describe in this post, many good Internet resources are available.

Two vital light measurements

wireless PAR light meterAs mentioned, our PAR Light Meter interprets two essential elements of the light your plants receive from sunlight and grow lights. First, in the PAR spectrum or zone, the PAR Light Meter measures the light which falls on your crops, expressed as photosynthetic photon flux density or PPFD. Today, PPFD is the best available measure in the market to compare grow lights and their effectiveness.

The PPFD is the light intensity and the amount of light arriving at the crop canopy within the PAR spectrum. It’s measured by the amount of micromoles of light per square meter per second.

The other crucial light element the PAR Light Meter measures is the daily light integral (DLI)—the total amount of light delivered to your crops every day. Scientifically speaking, DLI is a measurement of the accumulation of the total number of photons that reach plants during the daily photoperiod.

The PAR Light Meter measures DLI based on the number of moles of photons in the PAR region per square meter per day. Ultimately, DLI indicates the amount of PPFD that lands on plants during a full day.

Built for growth.

Our PAR Light Meter and iMonnit Software do these two key calculations for you. You can get alerts on your mobile device or computer to adjust grow lighting at the right time. Plus, the meter’s data can provide a deeper understanding of what’s happening over time with the light on your crop canopy virtually everywhere in your field, greenhouse, or grow house.

Light optimization using the PAR Light Meter will not only help you give plants the exact light they need but dial in energy costs to prevent overspending. By monitoring and managing light performance on plants, you can maximize crop quality, yield, and ROI.

Discover more about the PAR Light Meter’s specifications and how to use it here.