Submitted to: Biotronics
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/20/2001
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Closed environment plant growth chambers have proven to be very useful for collection of basic data for plant growth and development processes. Currently they are also being utilized to collect information for remote sensing research. The Soil Plant Atmosphere Research (SPAR) facility at Mississippi State, MS, is one of a few naturally sunlit, closed environment, plant growth research instruments in existence. It consists of ten soil bins covered by two meters tall acrylic plastic tops in which row crops can be grown. Each soil bin is two meters long by one-half meter wide and one meter tall. The aerial environment is temperature and carbon dioxide controlled via a dedicated microcomputer system. Many different types of basic research experiments can be conducted within these chambers. Plants can be grown in a row-crop configuration from seeding to maturing or any phase of plant development in between. This facility has proven to be very valuable and important in gathering information on individual plant growth and development processes for use in crop simulation models and for obtaining ground truth data for remote sensing projects. Since most of the normal field experiment problems can be eliminated, i.e., covariance and confounding data, the facility has proven to be valuable in determining cause and effect relationships in plant processes.
Technical Abstract: Integration of a process-based crop simulation model with user friendly expert systems has aided farm managers by facilitating the selection of optimal solutions to widely varying problems. As such systems are enhanced to further understand plant responses to environment, there is increased need for diagnostics and management-decision aids either in support of optimizing resources for efficient farm management in precision agriculture technologies, or global climate change research, or the use of plants for remediation of extreme environmental conditions. There are certainly a variety of approaches and facilities for investigating plant response to the environment. We have demonstrated the utility and value of a Soil Plant Atmosphere Research (SPAR) facility, which comprises ten outdoor, naturally-lit chambers in generating data useful for increased understanding of cotton growth and physiological responses to environment and for developing process-level physiological models. Operating a SPAR facility to acquire model data is often being more expedient and economical than field plot experiments, because SPAR allows the scientist to minimize many of the covarying and confounding factors that occur in field experiments. As a result, basic plant processes can be investigated and be more directly related to the environmental variable(s) being studied. This paper presents operational data and research results from a SPAR facility at Mississippi State University, Mississippi State MS, constructed in 1997 and still in use now.