Process and Product: Recirculating Hydroponics and Bioactive Compounds in a Controlled Environment

in HortScience
Author:
Gary W. StutteDynamac Corporation, Space Life Sciences Laboratory, Kennedy Space Center, FL, 32899

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NASA has investigated the use of recirculating nutrient film technique (NFT) systems to grow higher plants on long-duration space missions for many years and has demonstrated the feasibility of using recirculating systems on numerous crop species. A long duration (418-day) experiment was conducted at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., to evaluate the feasibility of using recirculating hydroponics for the continuous production of Solanum tuberosum L. `Norland'. The productivity of four sequential batch plantings was compared to staggered harvest and plantings. The accumulation of bioactive organic compounds in the nutrient solution resulted in reduced plant height, induced early tuber formation, and increased harvest index of the crops in both production systems. The changes in crop development were managed by increasing planting density and reducing cycle time to sustain production efficiency.

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