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Sensors for plant health monitoring

03 September '21

Within SpaceBakery, the UGent-team applies innovative sensors to measure whole-plant water use and growth of wheat to accurately monitor every change in plant functioning and development.

Sap flow sensors
Sap flow sensors

Whole-plant water use is measured with ExoBeat sap flow sensors (see bottom link), developed by the UGent Laboratory of Plant Ecology, whereas PhytoClips are used to monitor leaf thickness and stem diameter variations (Photo).

In this way, valuable information on wheat growth and physiology is gathered to optimize growing conditions in a closed environment. In addition, a functional-structural plant model (FSPM) of wheat is being developed, which allows for virtual experiments to optimize, amongst others, lamp placement, light duration and intensity, irrigation and plant density.

Challenges related to wheat cultivation in a closed environment can as such be tackled by this innovative combination of plant sensors and modelling.

From January to May 2021 a unique experiment has been conducted in two treatment chambers of the UGent Faculty of Bioscience Engineering.

In these chambers not only temperature, relative humidity, CO2-concentration, and light intensity could by adjusted, but also the light spectrum by using state-of-the-art RAYN Growing Systems luminaires.

In this experiment, the effect of a shortened day-night cycle on plant growth and development has been investigated. The gathered data is also being used for FSPM development. Although data is still being processed, a clear effect on both plant morphology and physiology has been observed.

Due to the interesting results, a similar experiment is currently performed at the Puratos facilities.

Exobeat sap flow sensors

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