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Space Nerds: Growing on the Lunar Surface... or indoors... with Fiber Optics!

So, as @Theo knows, Bruce Bugbee is a really interesting researcher who has spent a significant portion of his life researching soilless media, lighting, and other non-conventional growing methods. This particular paper is interesting to me because I’m a space nerd. I love Kerbal Space Program and can’t help but go “Oooh” at any space games that pop up.

The basic idea is this: The moon is tidally locked to the Earth. Every 28 days is a moon-day. That means 14 Earth-days are spent in darkness, and 14 Earth-days are spent in light. This is terrible news for anybody who wants to build a farm on the moon. However, the interesting thing this paper notes is that if you store the crops in low temperatures (usually around 15C) with some light (5-10 PPF), they can actually survive and thrive despite these conditions – the only difference being that their growth takes longer.

[quote]“Tomatoes went into storage just as the plants were flowering and a PPF of 10 was
tremendously beneficial. Slightly reducing air temperature, along with a PPF of 10,
increased yield by a surprising 80% above the control plants. The tomato plants effectively
set fruit during the cold, dark period, and these fruits rapidly grew after full light was
restored.”[/quote]

Crop Production on the Lunar Surface Using Solar Fiber Optics- M.pdf (758.4 KB)

One interesting potential application of this research gives me an idea – If you have extra room in your grow operation, cycling some plants into a “dark” phase like the one in this experiment might produce up to 80% larger yields, if you’re willing to deal with it taking 50% longer.

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