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  • Author or Editor: John C. Sager x
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Abstract

A plant nutrient delivery system that uses a microporous, hydrophilic tube was developed with potential application for crop production in the microgravity of space. The tube contains a nutrient solution and delivers it to the roots. Pumps attached to the tubing create a very small suction that holds the solution within the tube. This system was used to grow wheat (Triticum aestivum cv. Yecora Rojo) for 107 days in a controlled environment at suctions of 0.40, 1.48, or 2.58 kPa. The water absorbed through the pores of the tube by baby diaper sections decreased as suction increased. Correspondingly, final plant biomass, seed number, and spikelet number also tended to decrease as suction increased. The reduced yield at higher suction suggests that the plants experienced water stress, although all suctions were below those typical of soils at field capacity.

Open Access

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are a potential irradiation source for intensive plant culture systems and photobiological research. They have small size, low mass, a long functional life, and narrow spectral output. In this study, we measured the growth and dry matter partitioning of `Hungarian Wax' pepper (Capsicum annum L.) plants grown under red LEDs compared with similar plants grown under red LEDs with supplemental blue or far-red radiation or under broad spectrum metal halide (MH) lamps. Additionally, we describe the thermal and spectra1 characteristics of these sources. The LEDs used in this study had a narrow bandwidth at half peak height (25 nm) and a focused maximum spectral output at 660 nm for the red and 735 nm for the far-red. Near infrared radiation (800 to 3000 nm) was below detection and thermal infrared radiation (3000 to 50,000 nm) was lower in the LEDs compared to the MH source. Although the red to far-red ratio varied considerably, the calculated phytochrome photostationary state (φ) was only slightly different between the radiation sources. Plant biomass was reduced when peppers were grown under red LEDs in the absence of blue wavelengths compared to plants grown under supplemental blue fluorescent lamps or MH lamps. The addition of far-red radiation resulted in taller plants with greater stem mass than red LEDs alone. There were fewer leaves under red or red plus far-red radiation than with lamps producing blue wavelengths. These results indicate that red LEDs may be suitable, in proper combination with other wavelengths of light, for the culture of plants in tightly controlled environments such as space-based plant culture systems.

Free access

Abstract

This paper describes a closed-loop control system for controlling the irradiance and spectral quality generated by fluorescent lamps in a controlled environment chamber. The 400 to 800 nm irradiance and the ratio of the red waveband (600 to 700 nm) to the far-red waveband (700 to 800 nm) were independently controlled and varied as functions of time. A suggested application is to investigate the possibility of synergistic effects of changing irradiance levels and changing spectral distributions on photoperiodism and photomorphogenesis.

Open Access

Radish (Raphanus sativus L. cv. Cherriette), lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. cv. Waldmann's Green), and spinach (Spinacea oleracea L. cv. Nordic IV) plants were grown under 660-nm red light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and were compared at equal photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) with either plants grown under cool-white fluorescent lamps (CWF) or red LEDs supplemented with 10% (30 μmol·m-2·s-1) blue light (400-500 nm) from blue fluorescent (BF) lamps. At 21 days after planting (DAP), leaf photosynthetic rates and stomatal conductance were greater for plants grown under CWF light than for those grown under red LEDs, with or without supplemental blue light. At harvest (21 DAP), total dry-weight accumulation was significantly lower for all species tested when grown under red LEDs alone than when grown under CWF light or red LEDs + 10% BF light. Moreover, total dry weight for radish and spinach was significantly lower under red LEDs + 10% BF than under CWF light, suggesting that addition of blue light to the red LEDs was still insufficient for achieving maximal growth for these crops.

Free access

Plants will be an important component of future long-term space missions. Lighting systems for growing plants will need to be lightweight, reliable, and durable, and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have these characteristics. Previous studies demonstrated that the combination of red and blue light was an effective light source for several crops. Yet the appearance of plants under red and blue lighting is purplish gray making visual assessment of any problems difficult. The addition of green light would make the plant leave appear green and normal similar to a natural setting under white light and may also offer a psychological benefit to the crew. Green supplemental lighting could also offer benefits, since green light can better penetrate the plant canopy and potentially increase plant growth by increasing photosynthesis from the leaves in the lower canopy. In this study, four light sources were tested: 1) red and blue LEDs (RB), 2) red and blue LEDs with green fluorescent lamps (RGB), 3) green fluorescent lamps (GF), and 4) cool-white fluorescent lamps (CWF), that provided 0%, 24%, 86%, and 51% of the total PPF in the green region of the spectrum, respectively. The addition of 24% green light (500 to 600 nm) to red and blue LEDs (RGB treatment) enhanced plant growth. The RGB treatment plants produced more biomass than the plants grown under the cool-white fluorescent lamps (CWF treatment), a commonly tested light source used as a broad-spectrum control.

Free access