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Life Support and Biosphere Science




Cognizant Communication Corporation

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Phasic control refers to the specification of a series of different environmental conditions during a crop's life cycle, with the goal of optimizing some aspect of productivity. Because of the enormous number of possible scenarios, phasic control is an ideal situation for modeling to provide guidance prior to experiments. Here we use the Ceres-Wheat model, modified for hydroponic growth chambers, to examine temperature effects. We first establish a baseline by running the model at constant temperatures from 10°C to 30°C. Grain yield per day peaks at 15°C at a value that is 25 % higher than the yield at the commonly used 23 °C. We then show results for phasic control limited to a single shift in temperature and, finally, we examine scenarios that allow each of the five phases of the life cycle to have a different temperature. Results indicate that grain yield might be increased by 15-20% over the best yield at constant temperature, primarily from a boosted harvest index, which has the additional advantage of less waste biomass. Such gains, if achievable, would help optimize food production for life support systems. Experimental work should first verify the relationship between yield and temperature, and then move to selected scenarios of phasic control, based on model predictions.

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