Space farming could improve vegetable farming on Earth

Increasingly, technological advances from space exploration have important applications on our planet. For example, agriculture has rapidly improved through the application of space resources to terrestrial challenges.

Undoubtedly, satellite observation is one of the greatest benefits of space for agriculture, as these spacecraft continuously monitor soil around the world.

Satellite images monitor environmental changes to inform farming decisions. Image: JSC/NASA

Relevant satellites such as Landsat, NASA, Envisat, European Space Agency (ESA) and Radaresat, Canadian Space Agency (CSA), are equipped with sensors capable of monitoring various parameters related to the sector such as soil moisture. , for example. They can tell us when and how quickly soil is drying out, helping to manage irrigation more efficiently on a regional scale.

Thanks to weather satellites, it is possible to predict periods of drought, floods, rainfall and outbreaks of plant diseases. Thanks to this, scientists are able to predict the threat of food insecurity or crop failure.

Highlighted in an article signed by Ajwal D’Souza, a doctoral student in environmental sciences at the University of Guelph, and Thomas Graham, assistant professor at the same institution, published on the site the conversationContribution is not limited to the use of this machine.

Beyond satellite observation

Humans have managed to survive and grow a variety of plants in low Earth orbit aboard various spacecraft and the International Space Station (ISS) under extremely adverse conditions such as cosmic radiation and lack of gravity.

According to space biologist Anna-Lisa Paul, “Plants are able to tap into their genetic toolbox and recreate the tools they need to adapt to new space environments.” He says these new tools and behaviors can be used to solve the challenges facing crops in Earth’s changing climate, revealed by plants under spaceflight conditions.

NASA researchers sent cotton seeds to the ISS to understand how roots grow in weightlessness. The research findings will help develop cotton plant varieties with deep root systems to more efficiently access and absorb soil water in drought-prone areas.

Soon men will go to the moon again and eventually they may go to Mars. In these places, the astronauts have to grow their own food.

Space agencies have therefore worked on special systems that provide the necessary conditions for agriculture in space, such as containers that can control the indoor environment and grow vegetables without soil under LED lights.

Space farming could improve vegetable farming on Earth
Hydroponics and vertical farming were developed to grow crops without soil or sunlight. Photo: YEINISM –

NASA research into controlled environmental systems for growing plants has been instrumental in the development of the modern vertical farming sector—indoor farms that grow plants without soil under the purple fumes of LEDs.

A thriving industry today, vertical farms produce large quantities of fresh, healthy hardwood crops with a fraction of the water and nutrients that would be used in terrestrial farming systems.

Vertical farms can be set up where there is demand, reducing the need for long-distance transportation. Because crops are grown in a controlled environment, vertical crops can significantly reduce reliance on herbicides and pesticides, while recycling water and preventing nutrient runoff.

According to D’Souza, given space constraints, farming techniques need to be more energy efficient and require minimal human intervention. Crops must be nutrient-dense with the ability to withstand high-stress environments—traits that are also desirable for Earth crops.

Space exploration has served as a major driver for technological advancement. The renewed interest in space only benefits agriculture here on Earth, providing new opportunities to improve agriculture. Innovations that are literally out of this world can give us the tools to combat the threat posed by global climate change.

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