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Efficient crop production

by UGent x SCK CEN

Virtual 3D crops

"Virtual 3D-crop"

The University of Ghent measures the growth of wheat plants with sap flow sensors in addition to leaf and stem clips. Together with additional measurements, this allows the University of Ghent to model a functional–structural plant model.  This “virtual 3D-crop” will then be used to determine the most optimal and sustainable way to grow wheat in the closed biosphere system.

The virtual 3D-crop will be used to determine the most optimal and sustainable way to grow wheat in the closed biosphere system.
Prof. Kathy Steppe - Head of the Laboratory of Plant Ecology

"Efficient crop production under space radiation"

SCK CEN investigates the impact of ionising radiation on wheat, as present on Mars as well as innovative ways to improve the plant performance growing on martian-like substrate. After all, SCK CEN has the unique ability to simulate different radiation environments. Understanding plant responses to radiation will play an important role in preparation for the space missions. Wheat trial experiment at SCK CEN is shown in the picture.

SCK CEN team also assess the potential of mineral leaching from Martian- and lunar-type volcanic rocks by microbes under space radiation condition to find out the right combination for efficient crop production through efficient utilization of resources.

More and more we rely on indoor crop production. Life’s smallest organisms will play a key role in achieving safe growth environments and healthy food.
Dr. Natalie Leys - Head of the Microbiology Research Unit, SCK CEN

Meet the UGent expert team


  • SpaceBakery Kathy Steppe

    Professor Kathy Steppe

    Head of the Laboratory of Plant Ecology

    Kathy Steppe is Bio-engineer, Doctor in Applied Biological Sciences and Full Professor at Ghent University. Since 2008, she manages and guides the Laboratory of Plant Ecology at the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering (UGent), which is specialized in applied plant ecophysiology. Kathy’s research team uses an array of plant sensors and plant models, along with medical imaging techniques, to study the dynamic responses of trees and crops to their environment. Plant-water relations and carbon metabolism are jointly investigated to better understand the dynamic plant-environment interplay, with a special emphasis on drought in a changing climate. In her papers, she reports on new discoveries and high-tech developments within the applied ecophysiological plant research. 

    More about UGent

  • Hans Van de Put

    Dr. ir. Hans Van de Put

    Hans Van de Put is bio-engineer and works as a post-doc at the UGent Laboratory of Plant Ecology at the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering. During his PhD, he studied the use of plant sensors and modelling in ornamental horticulture as a tool to monitor plant-environment interactions and plant health. His current research focusses on plant physiology, plant sensors and modelling.

Find out more about the contribution of SCK CEN.

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