A Space-Rated Nutrient Delivery Root/Support System
A Space-Rated Nutrient Delivery Root/Support
PhytoResource Research, Inc.
707 Texas Avenue, Suite 101-E
College Station, TX 77840
H. W. Scheld (409-693-8606)
KSC -- NAS10-11461
There is a growing understanding that the interaction of the plant root with its
environment is critical to plant productivity. In a microgravity environment, available
evidence indicates that the activity in the root zone may become the major limiting
factor. Understanding of the exchange of metabolic gases and nutrient uptake by roots
is, thus, a critical issue in the development of plant support systems employed in
space for life support or for basic research. To address this issue, this project
was aimed specifically at providing data and technology for support of plant root
systems in advanced space life support systems.
Several configurations of a root metabolic chamber were designed for studies of
the effects of aeration and gas exchange upon plant functions. The read-out of plant
function in this apparatus is a system for measurement of carbon-11 uptake and phloem
transport generally known as the short-lived isotope kinetics system, which allows
real time observations of effects of changing shoot or root environments upon the
allocation of carbon in growing plants. A prototype of a shuttle locker-sized, plant
growth flight experiment facility was developed consisting of computer-controlled
valves and pumps to allow the regulation of aeration and watering in six or more
small plant growth chambers within the plant growth facility.
Potential Commercial Application:
Potential Commercial Application: The applications are in the development of more
effective hydroponic systems for intensive greenhouse culture and for use in highly
controlled, compact, plant-growth systems for space applications. This information
is of significant value for terrestrial agriculture in environments that are waterlogged
or otherwise subject to poor aeration.