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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Food Quality Laboratory » Research » Research Project #439353

Research Project: Controlled Environment Approaches for Optimizing Microgreen Plant Growth and Nutritional Value

Location: Food Quality Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-43000-016-01-M
Project Type: Memorandum of Understanding

Start Date: Oct 1, 2020
End Date: Sep 30, 2023

Objective:
NASA and USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) wish to conduct research to develop protocols and approaches for studying microgreen plant species with high nutritional value for humans. Research, which will be conducted in collaboration with NASA and USDA funded postdoctoral research fellows, will focus on controlled environment approaches for optimizing plant growth and nutritional value. Results from these studies of microgreens are important to USDA and NASA due to their potential as nutritious food supplements, which could be consumed by humans on Earth or in space.

Approach:
Research will be conducted in support of in-house research to identify pre-harvest parameters and develop commercially relevant treatments that enhance microgreen productivity, quality and nutritive value for urban and space farming. Microgreens can be an important component of urban farming because of their rapid production cycle, ease of handling, and nutrient dense property. Consequently, they also have great potential for production in space. However, additional research is required to optimize product quality for urban markets and resolve challenges of microgravity and stress inherent in space production. Major focus at the USDA will include seed treatments, light wavelength, intensity, and photoperiod on microgreen growth, nutrition and sensory attributes; soil and soil-less production system; seed fixation using hydrogel and pre-seeded mats; and fertilizer and calcium application etc.