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The Daily Light Integral of Plants

The Daily Light Integral of Plants

4 min read

The daily light integral (DLI) specifies the usable light received within a 24 hour window. Understanding and optimizing DLI is crucial for healthy plants and bountiful plant yield.

How Much Light a Plant needs

When it comes to understanding your plants lighting down to a science - the daily light integral, or DLI for short, is all you need. Light is the primary driving force for each photosynthetic plant on our planet, which is why understanding the daily light integral for specific crops is necessary for healthy growth and abundant yields.

Join us as we describe what the DLI is, how it affects plant growth, and how you can harness this invaluable measurement with the press of a button.

What is the Daily Light Integral?

The daily light integral is an updated measurement that builds upon the PPFD method. The DLI measures photosynthetically active photons that strike within a specific area within a 24-hour window.

Light provided by the sun differs by geographic location and time of year

Although this may sound complicated, keep reading - it gets easier.

Plants capture photons (light particles) and turn them into energy with the help of chlorophyll and carotenoid, two photon-capturing molecules. Photosynthetically active photons describe the light that falls within the 400-700nm range. It’s this type of light that plants actually use. When light falls out of this range, it’s essentially useless.

Instead of going into complicated calculations, we’ll leave the technical aspects for now and find out how DLI is beneficial for plants.

Why is Light Important for Plants?

Light is the primary driving force for all photosynthetic plants. Although other factors, such as the medium where roots are anchored and the moisture that quenches their thirst, is beyond essential - light takes the game a step further for most plants.

This is because light fuels every process within the plant, such as root growth, flower production, and vegetative growth. The DLI measures the amount of light per day that plants use to reach their potential and that’s why it is so significant.

Some of you may wonder - why does that matter? It matters because your plant won’t perform if it doesn’t receive the optimal amount of light. Where too little light will make the plant leggy and week, too much light will damage the plant and prevent it from further performing photosynthesis. Both will result in a much smaller yield.

How Indoor Growers Can Harness DLI for Optimized Growth and Larger Yields

Most indoor growers routinely complain about high electricity bills, hot grow rooms, and underperforming crops. However, all of these problems can be tackled when measuring and optimizing the DLI, because it literally affects everything!

All plants have an optimal (or maximum) DLI. When you know your plants' optimal DLI, you can tune your lighting to ensure it doesn’t get too much or too little. In other words, DLI can save you additional electricity from your grow lights and cooling system because it’s more likely that you’re giving your plants too much light.

Providing optimal lighting is crucial for plant growth

All plants have different DLI requirements according to their natural habitat. A plant growing at the base of the jungle floor has a significantly lower DLI compared to that of a palm tree that receives an abundant amount of bright sunshine.

When you take all this information into consideration, it’s easy to understand how improving the environmental conditions in the grow room (such as reducing heat due to less light) will lead to more healthy crops. When your plants are satisfied, there’s no doubt that they will thank you with a plentiful harvest.

Let’s take a look at the DLI of various crops that are popularly cultivated indoors.

DLI for Common Indoor Crops

Plant DLI
Shade Plants 6 - 10
Peas 9
Basil 12
Broccoli 15 - 35
Tomatoes 20 - 30
Zucchini 25
Peppers 30 - 40
Cannabis 30 - 45

As you can see, chili pepper and cannabis crops have a surprisingly high DLI, which explains why high output lamps are necessary when cultivating this crop indoors.

Optimize Your Grow With The Press Of A Button

Instead of sitting next to your plant and trying to make an accurate calculation, let the Photone application crunch the numbers for you. Photone (previously named Korona) is a smartphone app that utilizes the front camera on your phone to instantly calculate the DLI at a specific position. This is done through the use of advanced image processing algorithms that allow you to gain crucial insight into the amount of usable light that your plant receives.

Measuring DLI with the Photone App
With the help of Photone, you can decrease your energy bills by understanding what your plants actually need. Furthermore, your crops will yield a bountiful harvest when they receive exactly what they need. No more wasted electricity means more green in your pocket – to which all indoor growers will agree, is a good thing.

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So, go ahead, look up your crops' required DLI, download Photone and start measuring and growing like a pro.

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