Uptake Analysis Model: A model to describe and optimize the take up of fertilizers in plants

Abstract

An Uptake Analysis Model has been developed in which the composition of both the ingoing nutrient solution as the nutrient drain are analysed, and the needs for each element of the crops are calculated using a dedicated algorithm. Subsequently, the dosage for each element is corrected.

This technology, originally developed for long-duration spaceflight, has been made compatible for ground-based horticulture and results in less emissions of unused fertilizer elements, healthier crops, less diseases, and more harvest.

Description

Sustainable crop production will be a prerequisite for long-duration human space missions. In the ‘Space Agro’ area, it is very important to deal with the available resources and stocks efficiently; the dosage of key elements to the crops has to be as accurate as possible, in order to prevent production losses and spoilage of minerals that are dosed in excess.

Based on element analysis and a dedicated algorithm the Uptake Analysis Model calculates corrections for each individual growth nutrient of a crop. This allows the development of the crop to be accurately controlled, e.g. to produce a healthier crop with optimal fruit load and more precise harvest planning.

Innovations and advantages of the offer

In the algorithm corrections are implemented for mutual uptake inhibitions of the elements, historical nutrient dosages and drain compositions. Thus, nutrient dosage becomes a dynamic process.

The advantages are:

  • Better control of crop development
  • A healthier crop
  • Optimal fruit load
  • Precise harvest planning

Further Information

The Uptake Analysis Model can be applied to any crop type on Earth. Groen Agro Control provides a dedicated course to train horticulturists who want to use the Model.

Application

Current application: Demonstration system for sustainable crop production during long-duration manned space missions.

Potential application: the Uptake Analysis Model can be applied to any crop type on Earth to calculate corrections for each growth nutrient. This allows the development of the crop to be accurately controlled, e.g. to produce a healthier crop with optimal fruit load and more precise harvest planning.

Comments on the technology by the broker

At Groen Agro Control (GAC) the idea to develop a horticultural concept for space came up in 2011/2012, when future travel to the Moon and Mars was in the news. In May 2013 the R&D department of GAC looked at what exactly a plant absorbs from a variety of nutrients. This was found to be variable. Follow-up and contact with ESA was triggered by their participation in Space-MATCH in November 2013. Following this event, GAC immediately started to do further research on their idea to produce water and crops more or less automatically, based on the ‘cockpit situation’ of a spaceship. Astronauts already have enough things to worry and should not have to devote their attention to crop care.

In 2014, two technology parts of this development have been made compatible with the large-scale production in horticulture on Earth, which resulted in less emissions of unused fertilizer elements, healthier crops, less diseases, and more harvest.

Description of Space Heritage

GAC has developed the so-called ‘Uptake Analysis Model’ to support and optimize crop production in Space. For long-duration human space missions, sustainable crop production will be a prerequisite. In the ‘Space Agro’ area, it is very important to deal with the available resources and stocks efficiently. In the MELiSSA project, ESA has made significant progress with regard to the circulation of water and minerals, defining the complete diet for astronauts, crop production and water purification.

The ‘Uptake Analysis Model’ supports these subjects. In this model the compositions of the ingoing nutrient solution and drain are analysed, and the specific needs of the crops are calculated. Subsequently, the dosages for the specific elements are corrected in order to develop an optimized growth, development and harvest for the specific crops.

Category
Other Technologies
Reference No.
TDO0204
Could this technology benefit your business? Please contact Len van der Wal TNO Space (Netherlands)
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