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Kale, basil and wheat trials - by Urban Crop Solutions

20 May '22

Since January 2020, plant scientists at Urban Crop Solutions have been conducting trials on kale, basil, and wheat, at their in-house Research Centre, as part of one of two work packages for the SpaceBakery project. The purpose of the ongoing trials is to generate data for the AI model, and to ultimately obtain, through AI, the optimum growth recipes to increase yields and quality. Plant scientists at the Research Centre have been performing trials periodically – the data for which, is being collected by sensors on a daily basis.

Some findings so far

The results from this work package will complement the next work package that Urban Crop Solutions is subscribed to. For the second phase of the project, Urban Crop Solutions has developed a biosphere that mitigates the conditions on Mars, combining human housing, well-being, and plant production. Here, the company will perform further trials on the growth of the above-mentioned crops. The trials are still ongoing, and analyses therefore are yet to be finalised. Some patterns and findings identified so far however, are reported below.

Kale Trial


  • The temperature and light intensity had a direct impact in stem elongation in kale. A 75% reduction in stem elongation was achieved.
  • Humidity had an impact on leaf thickness. An increase in leaf thickness of around 15% was achieved.
  • Microclimate sensors showed the dynamic changes in temperature and humidity at crop level, which in turn correlated with the HVAC activity. This will help to optimise the use of resources in the future.
  • The data in general enabled researchers to determine the right transition time from seedling stage to vegetative growth. As result, seedling development was optimised before transplanting. This was developed for basil and kale.

Basil Trial

  • A correlation between biomass production and higher temperatures was identified. The maximum yield increase achieved is 190% so far.
  • There is evidence of some correlation between the light levels and the substrate size on plant growth. This may lead to a different approach for irrigation strategy and/or substrate selection.

Wheat Trial

  • Wheat trials, in collaboration with Ghent University, are ongoing at the Urban Crop Solutions Research Centre. Sensors are in place to measure growth conditions with varying irrigation strategies.

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