Development of Multi-crops Growing Systems for Conservation of Space and Energy 2004-01-2355
An Efficient Growing System is always in need for both terrestrial and extraterrestrial environments. The Multi-layered Hydroponics Growing System (MHGS) was developed and tested as a potential commercial scale production system for leaf crops. Six crops of Bibb lettuce (Lactuca sativa, Cultivars Butter Crunch) was grown successfully with a 40 percent shade cloth to diffuse light intensity, which helped to improve quality and palatability. At the same time the Overhead Hydroponics Growing System (OHGS) was developed for growing cucumber (Cucumis sativus L. Cultivar- Summer dance) with apical shoots slightly angled upward to give orientation of growth direction while enhancing lateral branch growth. Bib lettuce can be grown by utilizing the diffused light provided by the cucumber grown above, eliminating the need for the shade cloth. This system development is primarily focused on Automated Vegetable Factory Concepts, but they are all applicable as the Multi-functional Bio-regenerative Life Support System (BRLSS) and efficient food production systems for space exploration.