In the past few years, a new tool has been gaining popularity among researchers, farmers, and hobbyists who want to optimize plant growth, health, and productivity: the PAR sensor. PAR stands for photosynthetically active radiation, which refers to the part of the electromagnetic spectrum that plants use for photosynthesis, growth, and other physiological processes. PAR sensors are devices that measure the quantity and quality of PAR that reaches a given point in space, such as a plant canopy or a greenhouse. By using Photosynthetic Active Radiation Sensors, growers can fine-tune their lighting, shading, irrigation, and fertilization strategies to match the needs of their crops, save energy and resources, and enhance the yield and quality of their harvests. Photosynthetic Active Radiation Sensors can also help scientists study the effects of light on plant development, as well as monitor the impact of climate change, pollution, and other environmental factors on ecosystems and biodiversity.
PAR sensors come in various shapes, sizes, and technologies, but most of them work based on the same principle: they convert the incoming light into an electrical signal, which is then processed and displayed as a measurement of PAR, usually in units of micromoles per square meter per second (μmol m-2 s-1). PAR sensors can be stand-alone devices, integrated into other instruments, or connected to data loggers, controllers, and software for real-time or historical monitoring and analysis. Some Photosynthetic Active Radiation Sensors can also measure other parameters related to light, such as spectral distribution, photon flux density, and daily light integral, which provide additional insights into the plant response to light.
The function of the sensor:
The use of PAR sensors in plant science and horticulture has been growing rapidly, thanks to the increasing availability and affordability of the technology, as well as the growing awareness of the importance of light for plant growth and health. Photosynthetic Active Radiation Sensors can help growers optimize their lighting systems by measuring the intensity and uniformity of the light, adjusting the positioning and orientation of the lamps, and reducing the risk of over- or under-exposure of the plants. PAR sensors can also help growers optimize their shading systems by measuring the amount and quality of the shade, adjusting the opacity and duration of the screens, and reducing the risk of photoinhibition or photodamage to the plants.
PAR sensors can also help growers optimize their irrigation and fertilization systems by measuring the water and nutrient uptake of the plants, adjusting the timing and frequency of the applications, and reducing the risk of water stress or nutrient deficiency. PAR sensors can also help growers optimize their temperature and humidity control systems by measuring the heat and moisture exchange of the plants, adjusting the ventilation and cooling systems, and reducing the risk of heat stress or mold growth.
PAR sensors can also help researchers study the effects of light on plant development, physiology, and metabolism, as well as the interactions between light and other environmental factors, such as temperature, humidity, CO2, and pollutants. PAR sensors can help researchers understand how different types of light, such as natural sunlight, artificial light, or a combination of both, affect the growth, yield, and quality of various crops, such as fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers, and ornamentals. PAR sensors can also help researchers develop new lighting technologies, such as LED lights, that can provide specific wavelengths and intensities of light that are most beneficial for plant growth and development, while minimizing the energy consumption and environmental impact.
PAR sensors can also help monitor the impact of climate change, pollution, and other environmental stressors on ecosystems and biodiversity, by measuring the changes in the quality and quantity of light that affect the photosynthetic activity and productivity of plants. PAR sensors can help detect the effects of drought, heatwaves, frost, and other extreme weather events on the vegetation cover and productivity of forests.