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    Rights statement: This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Biosystems Engineering. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Biosystems Engineering, 150, 2016 DOI: 10.1016/j.biosystemseng.2016.07.008

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Development of a grow-cell test facility for research into sustainable controlled-environment agriculture

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>10/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Biosystems Engineering
Volume150
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)40-53
Publication statusPublished
Early online date2/08/16
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The grow-cell belongs to a relatively new category of plant factory in the horticultural industry, for which the motivation is the maximization of production and the minimization of energy consumption. This article takes a systems design approach to identify the engineering requirements of a new grow-cell facility, with the prototype based on a 12 m X 2.4 m X 2.5 m shipping container. Research contributions are made in respect to: (i) the design of a novel conveyor-irrigation system for mechanical movement of plants; (ii) tuning of the artificial light source for plant growth; and (iii) investigations into the environmental conditions inside the grow-cell, including the temperature and humidity. In particular, the conveyor-irrigation and lighting systems are optimised in this article to make the proposed grow-cell more effective and sustainable. With regard to micro-climate, data are collected from a distributed sensor array to provide improved understanding of the heterogeneous conditions arising within the grow-cell, with a view to future optimisation. Preliminary growth trials demonstrate that Begonia semperflorens can be harvested to the satisfaction of a commercial grower. In future research, the prototype unit thus developed can be used to investigate production rates, plant quality and whole system operating costs.

Bibliographic note

This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Biosystems Engineering. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Biosystems Engineering, 150, 2016 DOI: 10.1016/j.biosystemseng.2016.07.008