NASA has created a new technology to grow crops on other planets with the prospect of establishing colonies on Mars or another planet in the future. A group of scientists from the John Innes Center, the Earlham Institute, the Quadram Institute in the United Kingdom, and the University of Queensland have tested the application of this technology in terrestrial crops.
They have applied the new technology in a greenhouse at the John Innes Center in Norwick (United Kingdom). Researchers conducted rapid genetic improvements using shorter crop growth and harvest cycles, in addition to improved LED lighting. The research, which was published in the scientific journal Nature Protocols, shows that this method of cultivation can produce crops that are resistant to diseases, climate challenges, and that are more nutritious to feed a growing world population.
This technique uses improved LED illumination and day regimes of up to 22 hours to optimize photosynthesis and promote rapid crop growth. It accelerates the plants reproduction cycle: for example, it allows producers to grow six crops of wheat in a year, well above the two crops per year that are achieved with traditional improved farming methods.
By shortening breeding cycles, the method allows scientists and plant breeders to make accelerated genetic improvements, such as increasing yields, disease resistance and tolerance to climate change in a variety of crops, such as wheat, barley, rapeseed, and pea.