Development of Plant Growth Guide and Light Distribution System 2003-01-2458
Food Production systems to be used in space exploration must be very efficient in mass, weight and energy. We normally accept natural plant growth habits and design a growing system to accommodate their growth. Selection of dwarf varieties and faster growing varieties may contribute to increased efficiency but dwarf plants are not usually very productive. If the plant growth habit was altered in such a manner so that the growing density increases without sacrificing productivity, greater efficiency can be achieved. Our Automatic Growing and Harvest System (AGHS) has the capability of self-propagating, auto-growing and auto-harvesting. Presently, new modifications are being made to double the growing density by dividing the existing growth chamber to two separate chambers so that two plants can be grown. A Dual Pinch Roller Driver mechanism has to be built as a part of the modification. But the growth guide and light distribution system had to be developed first to determine the (Pinch Roller) plant spacing. Experiments were conducted to manipulate the growth direction of the foliage so that the growing compartment can be minimized thus maintaining high productivity. Monocot plants usually have higher efficiency in photosynthesis mainly due to its growth characteristics allowing better light penetration without shading other foliage. It is more difficult for dicot plants to have even light distribution.