Cary Mitchell, professor of horticulture, and Gioia Massa, a horticulture research scientist, tested several cultivars of strawberries and found one variety, named Seascape, which seems to meet the requirements for becoming a space crop.
"What we're trying to do is grow our plants and minimize all of our inputs," Massa said. "We can grow these strawberries under shorter photoperiods than we thought and still get pretty much the same amount of yield."
Seascape strawberries are day-neutral, meaning they aren't sensitive to the length of available daylight to flower. Seascape was tested with as much as 20 hours of daylight and as little as 10 hours. While there were fewer strawberries with less light, each berry was larger and the volume of the yields was statistically the same.
"I was astounded that even with a day-neutral cultivar we were able to get basically the same amount of fruit with half the light," Mitchell said.
The findings, which were reported online early in the journal Advances in Space Research, showed that the Seascape strawberry cultivar is a good candidate for a space crop because it meets several guidelines set by NASA. Strawberry plants are relatively small, meeting mass and volume restrictions. Since Seascape provides fewer, but larger, berries under short days, there is less labor required of crew members who would have to pollinate and harvest the plants by hand. Needing less light cuts down energy requirements not only for lamps, but also for systems that would have to remove heat created by those lights.
"We're trying to think of the whole system -- growing food, preparing it and getting rid of the waste," Massa said. "Strawberries are easy to prepare and there's little waste."
Seascape also had less cycling, meaning it steadily supplied fruit throughout the test period. Massa said the plants kept producing fruit for about six months after starting to flower.
Mitchell said the earliest space crops will likely be part of a "salad machine," a small growth unit that will provide fresh produce that can supplement traditional space meals. Crops being considered include lettuces, radishes and tomatoes. Strawberries may be the only sweet fruit being considered, he said.
"The idea is to supplement the human diet with something people can look forward to," Mitchell said. "Fresh berries can certainly do that."
Judith Santini, a research statistical analyst in Purdue's Department of Agronomy, was responsible for data analysis from the tests.
Mitchell and Massa said they next plan to test Seascape strawberries using LED lighting, hydroponics and different temperature ranges. NASA funded their work.
Writer: Brian Wallheimer, 765-496-2050, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: Cary Mitchell, 765-494-1347, email@example.com
Gioia Massa, 765-496-2124, firstname.lastname@example.org
Judith Santini, 765-494-6663, email@example.com
Brian Wallheimer | EurekAlert!
When fat cells change their colour
28.10.2016 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Aquaculture: Clear Water Thanks to Cork
28.10.2016 | Technologie Lizenz-Büro (TLB) der Baden-Württembergischen Hochschulen GmbH
Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.
So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
28.10.2016 | Life Sciences